Northern Grampians Shire Council supports Stawell's Big Hill mining plans

The view of Stawell from Big Hill. Picture: PAUL CARRACHER

The view of Stawell from Big Hill. Picture: PAUL CARRACHER

NORTHERN Grampians Shire Council has thrown its support behind plans to mine Big Hill, a major Stawell landmark.

Its endorsement comes with a list of 14 conditions.

On Monday night council agreed to write to Planning Panels Victoria in response to Stawell Gold Mines’ environmental effects statement for the proposed Big Hill Enhanced Development Program.

Mayor Kevin Erwin said council voted to support the project after Stawell Gold Mines – through the statement process – demonstrated the project’s community, environmental and economic benefits clearly outweighed any detrimental effects.

“We went on our council resolution back in February 2013, where we gave in-principle support for the project subject to further studies,” he said.

He said council wanted to make a submission to ensure Planning Panels Victoria considered what council believed to be the potential implications and impacts of the project.

The proposed Big Hill project will last four or five years, create 80 to 100 jobs and produce 2.3 million tonnes of ore.

It also involves a rehabilitation program that will be designed in consultation with council and the Stawell community.

Council’s submission will outline a set of conditions it would like taken into account should the panel decide to recommend the project for ministerial approval.

He said key points focused on monitoring the project’s possible health and noise impacts and ensuring the topographical landform of Big Hill would be rehabilitated and reinstated.

“Among the conditions is a bond to ensure that if the project falls over, there is sufficient bond to reinstate it back to what it was,” he said.

“We also want to make sure the hill itself is stable and that the company complies with the conditions it has agreed to.

“There are also concerns about vegetation and references to sticking to the noise and dust guidelines so the company meets the health standards.”

Cr Erwin said council also wanted to ensure Big Hill’s heritage monuments and structures would be looked after and restored.

“Ultimately we want to see Stawell benefit from this project somehow,” Cr Erwin said.

“Big Hill has been scarred by mining for more than a century.

“We think it could be better than what it is.

“We want to see Big Hill looking spick and span, but in a way that means minimum disruption to the people who live in the immediate vicinity.”

Council is looking at a number of opportunities for the mine site.

Cr Erwin encouraged Stawell and district residents to attend a meeting hosted by the Stawell Gold Mine Future Possibilities Project Control Group in the Stawell Entertainment Centre foyer on Wednesday night from 5.30pm to 7.15pm.

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