A STAWELL mineral exploration company believes an untapped copper belt running through the Wimmera could spark a mining boom.
Navarre Minerals managing director Geoff McDermott said state and federal government researchers had unearthed a belt of volcanic rock known as the Miga Arc while surveying the geology of western Victoria.
“The arc that runs from Dunkeld right through the west of Horsham was an old tectonic plate boundary, which means there was a row of volcanoes active there about 500 million years ago,” he said.
“That is where you get big mineral deposits forming.”
Thousands of years of erosion meant traces of the deeper minerals were becoming evident closer to the surface.
The belt stretches from the Victorian coastline at Warrnambool north into the Mallee.
“There is potential for the discovery of giant deposits,” Mr McDermott said.
“Copper is known as a red metal – this could be the red rush. It would be a multi-billion-dollar boost to the region.”
Mr McDermott said Geological Survey of Victoria researchers had compared western Victoria’s Miga Arc with the widely explored Macquarie Arc in NSW and South America’s Andes.
He expected the findings would attract worldwide interest.
He said state and federal government geologists were due to return to western Victoria to expand on their work with further testing.
Navarre Minerals presented its proposed work plan for the Miga Arc to the Australian Stock Exchange on Wednesday.
It revolves around testing the copper and gold potential for mining.
The business is already interested in exploring areas near Mitre and Natimuk, Cherrypool and Glenthompson.
“We are actively on the ground looking at a number of key prospects and working with the farmers in those areas,” Mr McDermott said.
“Our advantage is that we are local.”
He expected the potential for copper mining would attract experts and help retain skilled workers already affiliated with Stawell Gold Mines.
“Should a potential mine be found, we could harness the skills developed over the past 30 years around Stawell and put them to good use rather than having people going off into other industries,” Mr McDermott said.
He said copper was highly sought-after for its uses in supplying electricity, particularly in China and India.