Mining in Coffs ‘a long way down the track’
A SPATE of mining exploration licence applications in the Coffs/Clarence region is all part of a broader push for a piece of the booming precious metals market.
That’s according to Mart Rampe of Harvest Group Services, a geologist representing several companies with pending applications to explore for minerals across the state.
Mr Rampe said NSW in particular was a ‘hot item’ at the moment as the interest in precious metals, in particular gold and silver, became stronger.
“It is part of a broader commodity cycle … and there are applications (being submitted) all over the place,” he said.
An exploration licence gives the holder the exclusive right to explore for specified mineral groups within the exploration licence area during the term of the licence, which can be anywhere from one to six years.
The purpose of exploration is to locate areas where mineral resources may be present, to establish the quality and quantity of those resources and to investigate the viability of extracting the resource.
While there are a number of minerals located in the region, Mr Rampe said the focus of the applications in the Coffs/Clarence region, submitted by Christopher Wilson Investments Pty Ltd, was primarily gold and silver.
If the company is granted an exploration license, the first step would be to engage property owners in an effort to enter the field and explore for metals and inspect old occurrence.
But Mr Rampe emphasised the whole process would take a considerable amount of time and that some landowners might never see the company as they were not all in areas of interest.
Only once they had an initial examination of the areas might they start looking deeper.
“We apply modern exploration techniques and once we have done that and it is positive, we look to things like drilling to see what is at depth,” he said.
“Once having done that the process is to test whether it is economically viable (to extract minerals) and that is a long way down the track.”
One application currently being assessed by the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment covers just under 200 square kilometres of land about 10 kilometres north west of Coffs Harbour.
Another is for an area of 28 square kilometres in an area 25km south west of Grafton, close to Nymboida.
There is quite a rich history of mining in the Coffs/Clarence region, with hundreds of mines operating in the region in the 1800s.
Since their closure, a number of companies have taken up exploration licences in the hope of striking it rich.