Just over four months since Gloucester Resources Limited (GRL) announced it would not proceed with the proposed Rocky Hill Coal Mine on the edge of town, letters have been sent out advising of exploration work in the Gloucester Basin.
Residents within the exploration licensed areas held by GRL received notice from the company in mid-September advising of upcoming "low intensity, eligible impact exploration."
"GRL will conduct exploration activities in the Gloucester area to increase its understanding of the mineral resources in the areas covered by its exploration licences," a GRL spokesperson explained.
The licences do not permit mining activities to be undertaken, however it's a condition that GRL must implement and complete the work program specified in the renewal application for its licences. Works will be undertaken on land within the ELs 6523 (which encompasses the Rocky Hill area) and 6563, that were renewed by the State Department of Planning, Industry and Environment on June 22, 2017.
"The activity will involve geological field mapping south west of Gloucester," the spokesperson said. "The activities will be completed in less than a week, will only be undertaken on properties with landowner's permission and will not involve any surface disturbance."
Another requirement is that GRL must advise the community of any planned exploration activity. If the work is to be low impact, the GRL is only required to advise landholders and residents of the activity site, native titleholders or claimants, and council. The department's definition of low impact links directly to the level of community interest in the activity or broader project, being a "low level of community concern with no relevant, local community interest groups identified."
GRL's three licences are up for renewal next year; EL 6523 and 6524 expire on March 8, 2020, while EL 6563 expires on May 15.
"The findings of exploration work may assist in determining future use of GRL-owned land in the area and if the exploration licences will be renewed in 2020," a GRL spokesperson said.
MidCoast Council has confirmed it has been notified that GRL is undertaking some field mapping activities in the Faulkland Road and Gloucester Tops Road areas.