Mining plan to inject millions into economy, create 500 jobs
THERE'S gold in them there Gympie hills - and Scott Dodd wants to put the precious mineral front and centre in the region's identity again.
The founder and managing director of international resource company Aurum Pacific plans to re-open the Gympie Goldfields, a move that could create jobs for up to 500 people.
The mine played a key role in saving Queensland from bankruptcy in 1867, but it shut in 2008.
And there is still a lot of life left in the historic mine.
"We believe this mine has the potential to operate successfully for up to 20 years," Mr Dodd said.
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"During that time we would expect to employ around 120 to 150 full-time employees and that number could rise as high as 500 depending on the outcome of our exploration.
"We can confidently say that at least 90 per cent of those jobs would go to local people in the Gympie region.
"And that would have huge flow-on effects to the entire Gympie economy."
A new 100 per cent Australian-owned company - New Gympie Gold - would be established to run the mine.
There were still some hurdles to jump, though, like the state government's mining exclusion zone.
It covered the goldfield area, Mr Dodd said, and council support would help get it lifted.
However, the company had made several submissions to Gympie Regional Council but so far it had received no assistance.
Council CEO Bernard Smith said preliminary discussions had been held with Aurum but "it was not at a point which required council consideration".
Mr Smith said the state's restrictions were a key consideration but "further engagement with Aurum Pacific would be welcomed".
Mr Dodd said Aurum was politically unaffiliated and would not be involved in the election.
"But we would urge the people of Gympie to support any candidate who wants this project to proceed because we think it will be great for the area," Mr Dodd said.
Aurum Pacific would meet all environmental regulations and hold regular community updates on progress.
"This is an opportunity to make Gympie famous for its gold again," Mr Dodd said. "We want to work with the community to make it happen.
"Technology and mining methods have improved enormously since the mine was closed and that, along with the higher gold price, means we are confident we can make this project work.
"But our first objective is to get the necessary approvals and we would urge the people of Gympie to get behind our plan to help make this town famous for its gold once again."