A MINING company has abandoned plans to search for coal-seam gas in the Colac district.
A Department of Primary Industries spokesman said ECI International had “submitted a surrender request” to the State Government yesterday for exploration licence 5277.
The DPI granted the five-year licence covering a 500-square-kilometre area of the Colac Otway Shire to ECI International in December last year.
The company has handed back its licence less than three months after Mantle Mining walked away from proposed coal mining in the Deans Marsh area.
Anti-mining campaigners, including Colac Otway Shire Council, will be celebrating the success of a campaign against ECI’s plans.
But the Colac Herald believes ECI International has surrendered its exploration licence because the Colac Otway region covered by permit does not have “enough coal to justify exploration”.
Colac Otway Sustainability Group member Virginia Wallace said she was pleased ECI International had decided not to explore for CSG.
She said the group had raised concerns about the impact of CSG mining on water and the environment.
“This is an area of prime agriculture production,” Ms Wallace said.
“This is vindication for the strength of the farming industry and the community campaign.”
Forrest’s Karen Hansen and Teresa Price started the fight against CSG exploration and mining with a community awareness campaign in August.
They launched a petition and called a public meeting at Forrest in September attracting about 100 farmers, residents and representatives of Friends of the Earth and other green groups.
Opposition to CSG mining in the Colac district grew rapidly with politicians including Greens Senator Richard Di Natale and Corangamite MP Darren Cheeseman, and lobby groups such as the Victorian Farmers Federation voicing their concerns.
Colac Otway Shire Council took a tough stance two weeks ago, calling for licensees ECI International and CFT CBM Holdings to abandon their plans to search for coal-seam gas in the Colac area.
Mayor Brian Crook said there were flaws in the government’s permit process, with mining companies not required to tell councils of their licence applications.
He said earlier this week there was no proof CSG mining would not affect water, agriculture, the environment and landscape of the region.
Friends of the Earth campaign co-ordinator Cam Walker was confident earlier this week that community opposition could force the mining company to walk away from its exploration licence.
The Colac Herald believes ECI International’s permit withdrawal only affects licence 5277, which covered private land stretching across Colac, Forrest, Barongarook and Gellibrand.