PERTH-based manganese exploration company Eclipse Metals Ltd has followed up optimistic results from its Mary Valley tenements by significantly expanding its Gympie region territory.
The announced acquisition of 30sq km of new ground in the Eel Creek area includes old workings in the Mary's Creek State Forest.
The company says it has now extended its tenement holdings over the Mary Valley manganese field to more than 209sq km.
The company is effectively reinventing the Mary Valley manganese industry, with hopeful assay results indicating ore up to 52% purity.
But as Tiaro Coal managing director Dan Buckley stressed in Gympie this week, there is a big difference between promising exploration results and an actual operating mine.
His company has identified substantial seams of high quality exportable steel-making coal, for which demand is growing and supplies tightening.
The two companies' optimistic finds have sparked renewed enthusiasm for mining in the Gympie and nearby region.
THE emerging potential for revitalised manganese mining in the Mary Valley and north to Eel and Mary's Creeks has attracted the interest of Gympie MP David Gibson.
Mr Gibson will travel to Perth next month to meet with Eclipse chairman Carl Popal.
Mr Popal told The Gympie Times yesterday his company was keen to ensure its operations were environmentally beneficial and well worth the tolerance of residents.
"If we need to go through someone's property, we will negotiate a commercially viable contract which they will like," he said.
"We will remove a toxic material from their environment and we will restore the area properly."
That means, he said, that state forest areas restored after mining would be returned to a condition not seen since feral lantana and cat's claw weeds moved in.
"We're not like shale gas. We're not anything like that," he said.
"Manganese can be a toxin and can contaminate water supplies.
"We will remove it from the area.
"We want to contribute economically and we already are.
"Our geologists are staying in the area, eating locally and buying their fuel from local businesses."
Mr Popal said work so far had strongly indicated unexplored underground links between similar deposits over distance.
Visible deposits at the Queen Mary mine corresponded with deposits showing out of the ground at similar levels in another mine 300 metres away.
"You might suspect they are connected geologically," Mr Popal said.
"We also believe we have signs of substantial underground connections between deposits at Amamoor and Skyring Creek.
"Overall it is positive.
"The grade is good.
"We're not just speculating about what might lie beneath the ground. The evidence is there on the surface."