Exploration licence application for the Nambucca Valley

This notice of an Exploration Licence Application which appeared in last week's Mid Coast Observer has raised some eyebrows about what New England Silver Pty Ltd are planning and what it that would mean for the Nambucca Valley.

Mart Rampe, who is the technical advisor and agent for the company (as well as a director) told the Nambucca Guardian the company was applying to have a closer look at old workings found in searches of the NSW Government's digital records of the state's geology, known as DIGS.

"These are historical sites, where there has been activity in the past but nothing eventuated as they were not financially viable," Mr Rampe said.

But things have changed ...

With the price of gold and silver at an all-time high, people are out looking again, dusting off old projects worldwide.

Mart Rampe

He said a second licence application had also been lodged in the name of Gold Belt Pty Ltd.

"These companies have been incorporated for the express purpose of these explorations and we are expecting notification regarding our application next month."

A geologist of 45 years, Mr Rampe said while exploration could take place anywhere, the consent of property owners was required for entry onto private land.

"All minerals are the property of the Commonwealth in Australia, which is why we need a licence. If you develop a resource then you pay royalties to the government and the land owner."

Exploration Licence Application 6079 lodged in the name of New England Silver

Exploration Licence Application 6079 lodged in the name of New England Silver

He said at this stage the companies were only having a look and that community consultation would occur should anything be found and plans to proceed put in place.

"I understand some people are fearful but we are not looking for coal, nothing bulky and we are happy to talk to people and explain the process."

The price of gold

Gold prices first crossed the $1900 mark in after-hours electronic trading in on August 22, 2011, hitting an all-time high of $1917.90 an ounce the following day, before pulling back to about $1880.

The spot price of gold is currently$1859.90 per ounce with a buying price of $1962.19.

What are exploration licences?

An exploration licence gives the holder the exclusive right to explore for the specified mineral group(s) within the exploration licence area, during the term of the licence.

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.

The granting of an exploration licence does not give any right to mine, nor does it guarantee a mining lease will be granted with the exploration licence area.

What rights do landholders have?

The normal rights associated with private ownership of property are protected under NSW legislation. Landholders who host exploration on their land can also expect the following rights and protections:

  • to have an access arrangement setting out the terms and conditions for an explorer's access to land before they can begin work;
  • access to cost effective dispute resolution if an access agreement can't be reached through initial negotiations;
  • recourse if the terms of the access arrangement are not met by the explorer;
  • general immunity against actions arising as a consequence of titleholder actions on their land;
  • compensation (this can be monetary or in-kind);
  • their land to be fully rehabilitated.

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