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Vic should capitalise more on mineral resources: inquiry
23/05/2012 - More crown land should be available for mineral exploration in Victoria as part of a broader review of the state's land use, a parliamentary inquiry has found. Melissa Jenkins
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There should also be better processes to ensure communities are consulted about potential coal seam gas (CSG) exploration and development, it says.
Economic Development and Infrastructure Committee chair, Liberal MP Neale Burgess, says Victoria has strong mineral prospectivity but lags behind other states in capitalising on its natural resources.
"With the high risk nature of exploration and long lead times for project development, regulatory environments that are user friendly, predictable and transparent are best placed to secure that investment," he said in the committee's report tabled to state parliament on Tuesday.
The committee recommended using an approach similar to South Australia's to bolster mining industry investment, which has grown in that state after regulatory changes several years ago.
It wants the Victorian government to introduce time limits to cut down long project approval times.
Environment Victoria campaign director Mark Wakeham said the recommendation to allow more access to crown land for mineral exploration was concerning.
"That could be code for national parks and state reserves," he told reporters.
Several CSG exploration licences have been granted in Victoria, including to Mantle Mining near Bacchus Marsh, west of Melbourne, where protesters chained themselves to drill rigs last year.
Wakeham said it was positive the committee had acknowledged there needed to be better processes around CSG exploration and mining applications.
"However, if anything, this inquiry tips the balance further in favour of miners," he said.
A land use review would be welcome to allow other industries, such as farming, to have more say, he said.
"At the moment mining trumps all other industries," he said.
"That's what we're seeing at Bacchus Marsh where, you know, really prime agricultural areas are targeted for mining and the miners' rights trump the rights of the existing land holders."
Energy and Resources Minister Michael O'Brien said the coalition was a strong supporter of the development of the resources sector and would respond to the recommendations in due course.
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