Exploration for a crystal-like mineral that can be used as a soil conditioner to improve crop yields, as well as make plaster or as a component of chalk could bring new opportunities to northwest Victoria.
Earth Resources Regulation has granted Kerang Gypsum Supplies a minerals exploration licence that will allow it to search for gypsum in an area about 20 kilometres south-east of Edenhope.
Minerals exploration is very different to mining. It involves non-evasive activities, like soil sample testing, to understand the local geology and look for evidence of minerals over a large area, before focussing activities on a smaller zone.
Before commencing on-ground activities, Kerang Gypsum Supplies will extensively map the exploration area, assess its cultural heritage requirements and confirm its native vegetation status.
On-ground activities are expected to take place late in 2022 when, based on the results of initial mapping, Kerang Gypsum Supplies is expected to seek permission from landowners to conduct exploration work. This may involve collecting surface samples and shallow low-impact coring.
Following its initial assessments and on-ground exploration, the company’s work program will focus on estimating the quantity of gypsum present, further pit sampling and the preparation of a mineralisation report.
The state’s gypsum production was 282,874 cubic metres in 2019-20, with a sales value of almost $9 million. The product is used by farmers and adding it to some soils may increase productivity across Victoria’s $17.8 billion agricultural industry, which employs over 150,000 people.
Before an explorer can access privately-owned land and commence exploration activities, the explorer requires landholder consent. Land access consent tools are available to aid negotiations.
Kerang Gypsum Supplies has been mining gypsum in the area since the mid-1980s.
Quotes attributable to Executive Director Earth Resources Regulation Anthony Hurst:
“This minerals exploration licence is an example of how the resources and agricultural sectors can work together to support crop productivity.”
“Earth Resources Regulation inspectors monitor explorers’ activities to ensure compliance with safeguards to protect land and the environment.”