ANY proposal to approve an open-cut Big Hill Stawell Gold Mine will undergo heavy public scrutiny through a new state government program.
The then Planning Minister, Matthew Guy, knocked back the open-cut plan in October, 2014.
Under the new program, the not-for-profit group Environmental Justice Australia will receive $50,000 to help residents in Stawell engage in the process of approving projects.
Northern Grampians Shire mayor Tony Driscoll said it was conditional on the Stawell Gold Mine submitting an open-cut proposal modified from the 2014 proposal.
“It gives the community an opportunity to be consulted and go through the process in a professional way,” Cr Driscoll said.
“It certainly gives the community a vital say in the outcome of the proposal if it is proceeded with.
“The government has added this further layer to allow for professional help.”
The program will help run Stawell residents through the environmental assessment process and laws.
There is also an opportunity to participate with written submissions and presentations at public hearings.
Community education workshops and online resources to help residents engage in public consultations will also be available.
Cr Driscoll said the community was not aware of the mine’s plans for its future.
“The mine has not communicated much,” Cr Driscoll said.
“We don’t really know what the mine’s position so we just have to wait and see.”
Stawell lost 150 jobs when the mine announced it was closing in December.
Mr Guy’s planning rejection followed an earlier knock back by the Labor government in 2000.
Resources Minister Wade Noonan said many of the state’s communities felt disengaged from the process of approving new mines and quarries.
“This program will break down barriers so people can better understand what’s happening in their local areas, and take part in the consultation process,” Mr Noonan said.