THREE mining companies have won licences to drill for copper and other base metals in farmland near the Grampians.
The State Government has approved the licences.
The mining companies are interested in the Mount Stavely and eastern Black Range areas.
Queensland mining company Diatreme Resources has secured a five-year exploration licence at Glenthompson in the Mount Stavely belt.
Navarre Minerals has planned test drills for copper and gold south-east of Glenthompson.
Northern Platinum will assess the potential of copper deposits between Glenthompson and Willaura.
The increased mining activity follows a report by the Department of Environment and Primary Industries that said previous exploration in the Mount Stavely and Black Range areas had found massive sulphides, epithermal and porphyry copper mineralisation.
“An Andean-style arc, and the possibility of associated gold and base metal mineralisation styles that the modern Andes is famous for, is worthy of persistent exploration,” the report said.
Diatreme Resources chief executive Tony Fowler said the Mount Stavely area was highly regarded as a fertile magmatic arc system, expected to contain copper deposits.
“Ground preparations are scheduled for late September,” he said.
“Preparations will secure the area for drilling to commence using the company’s drill rig later in the year – when weather and ground conditions are more favourable.
“Drilling will be directed by geophysics in the search for porphyry styles of mineralisation.”
Northern Platinum director Chris Cairns said exploration of the area could create mining jobs in the region.
“If our exploration is successful in identifying enough additional copper mineralisation and this then leads to a development decision, up to 140 positions would be created in the 12-month construction of the site and a further 60 full-time employees would be required to run the mine,” he said.
“It would be a huge boost in employment for the region.”
Exploration licences permit the company to search the area, but it would not be able to extract anything greater than small samples without a mining licence.