GANNAWARRA Shire economic development manager Roger Griffiths says the Goschen Rare Earths and Mineral Sands Project is predicted to be one of the largest-producing mines of its type in the world.

“It will provide a range of opportunities for the Gannawarra community with around 350 jobs boosting the local economy,” Mr Griffiths told the Gannawarra Times.

“It’s really up to the community and business sector to embrace this type of development as it has the ability to inject millions of dollars into the local economy.

“Along with major energy, industrial and agricultural projects, the Gannawarra is likely to experience significant growth over the next five years.”

The 1479-hectare project is about 30km south-west of Swan Hill, near Lalbert.

A spokesperson from miner VHM said the company was working through the state environmental effects statement process.

“All major environmental and social impact assessments are well advanced and we are now seeking feedback on the draft impact assessment studies,” the spokesperson told the Gannawarra Times.

“The next step is to finalise the draft studies and submit to the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning for final review, and to seek the Minister for Planning’s authorisation to exhibit the EES. We anticipate that public exhibition of the EES will be in early 2023.”

The EES process involves reviewing technical studies, which form the baseline for potential impacts of the mining to be assessed. These studies include air quality, noise, biodiversity, cultural heritage, landscape and visual effects and traffic and transport, as well as assessing and measuring existing environmental conditions.

“VHM understands and acknowledges that the Goschen project should seek and maintain a social licence throughout the life of the project,” the spokesperson said.

“We have been actively engaging with directly and indirectly impacted landholders since 2018. As COVID restrictions have eased this year, our broader community engagement program has ramped up and we are now actively seeking feedback on the draft impact assessment studies.”

A start date for mining was uncertain.

“There are a number of factors outside of VHM’s control which can influence the approval timeline, including the pending approval of the Goschen Project EES by the Minister for Planning,” the spokesperson said.

“Nevertheless, we anticipate that first production will be in the first half of 2025.”

The next round of EES community engagement sessions is scheduled for November 9 and 10, with drop-in sessions to be held in Lake Boga, Kerang, Lalbert and Swan Hill, depending on the evolving flood crisis.

“VHM welcomes all community input and respects that community members will have differing viewpoints about the project,” the spokesperson said.

“We are keen to provide facts about the project and work directly with any community members who may have any concerns.”

Residents who are not able to attend the information sessions can get in contact with VHM through the website’s community page under the Corporate Responsibility tab.

Read Phoebe Doyle’s article in

The Gannawarra Times