9 February 2023

After careful consideration, the Minister for Energy and Mining, Tom Koutsantonis MP, has declined an application by Terramin Australia Ltd to develop the Bird In Hand gold underground mine at Woodside.

Terramin’s concept for its proposed Bird in Hand mine, and related applications for a Mining Lease and a Miscellaneous Purpose Licence, have undergone comprehensive assessment by government, including an eight-week statutory public consultation.

This process has involved Terramin undertaking extensive work to respond to questions raised by community and government technical experts.

The Department for Energy and Mining has advised that Terramin’s proposal satisfies their relevant statutory obligations. However, while the assessment considered technical matters in detail, the minister took into account other relevant considerations, including broader state interests such as potential socio-economic and amenity impacts and the effect on existing industries – including tourism – and the local community.

While the proposed mine would have had a short-term life, the potential impact on surrounding businesses – including world-class wineries such as Petaluma and Bird In Hand – and associated regional tourism could have longer-term implications.

The Adelaide Hills region enjoys a well-earned clean, green reputation, and this must be safeguarded.

South Australia’s mining and quarrying industries form an integral part of a strong diversified economy, delivering high value jobs - but this must be managed in a way that ensures mining activities present balanced technical, social, economic and environmental outcomes.

There are currently many successful quarry and mining operations that operate effectively in the Adelaide Hills - this decision is specific to the proposed Bird in Hand Gold Project.

Applications for the mine operation were lodged with the Department for Energy and Mining in June 2019. The assessment, led by DEM with referral to technical experts across various agencies, considered whether Terramin can demonstrate that the 265,000-ounce Bird in Hand gold resource can be efficiently and effectively mined, without unacceptable impact to the environment or third parties.

The application and response documents have included several government requests for clarification. Terramin’s response to the most recent request for clarification was received in December 2021, after which the Government was able to initiate the formal assessment process.

Project developers in all industries in South Australia have the right to submit proposals for community and government scrutiny, and the Government was required to complete a rigorous assessment of Terramin’s application, including location, complexity of the proposal, environmental and social factors.

In forming a decision, the minister can also consider the broader state interest, including whether a prospective mine fits within the existing character and/or amenity of a particular area and its existing social values.

Quotes attributable to Energy and Mining Minister Tom Koutsantonis

This is not a decision I’ve taken lightly or easily.

I appreciate Terramin’s cooperation in providing further detail about their proposed operation as requested.

I’m also acutely aware of community concerns about the proposal, including from nearby wineries, residents and the local community.

The area of the proposed mine is home to a world-class viticulture industry, producing some of Australia’s best-loved wines.

Tourism to the region is a critical contributor to the local economy and, on balance, there remains a possibility this proposed short-term mine may adversely affect the established and significant long-term agricultural and tourism industries of the Woodside area immediately adjacent the project areas.

As such, I am not willing to risk these established local industries against the opportunity this short-term mine may provide, and have decided it is in the state’s interest to decline the Mining Lease and Miscellaneous Purposes Licence applications by Terramin for its Bird in Hand Gold Project.

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