NEW exploration results from the Mary Valley have massively boosted hopes for a significant export manganese mine between Kandanga and The Palms.
In news that will be received with mixed feelings in the Mary Valley, Western Australian mineral exploration firm Eclipse Metals has announced the increasing probability of a new and significant export industry for the Gympie region.
The company has at this stage looked closely at only two out of 19 potential mine sites, all of them mined historically.
The valuable heavy metal is indispensable to the manufacture of many products, from high grade steel to iPhones and Tesla batteries.
Eclipse executive chairman Car Popal said early exploration led the company to anticipate deposits up to 167,000 tonnes - and that was worth a second look.
Now, Mr Popal says latest results lead him to a "best guestimate” of multiple millions of tonnes of high grade ore, strategically located between major export facilities at Gladstone and Brisbane.
Mr Popal made particular mention of Gympie geological enthusiast Fred Pooley, whose optimism had been an inspiration to the exploration effort in the area.
Early miners only scratched the surface, literally, he said.
"We've done gravitational surveys down to 40m.
" It could go deeper than that, may be down to 100m, but the tests we've done give a good guide to what's going on 40m down.
"It's like an x-ray into the ground.
"If you look at the Eel Creek deposit, it's very large.
"And in tonnage that is especially significant, because manganese is a very heavy metal.
"We took samples for lab analysis in 2014-15 and then tuned the equipment specifically for those minerals and that gave us these results.
"Then there's further down at Amamoor Hill.
"There are 19 potential sites where mining has occurred successfully in the Mary Valley and we have so far only concentrated on these two,” he said.
Aside from environmental concerns about the effects of mining in itself, some residents are concerned at the toxic effects of manganese ore when exposed to the air, requiring extensive safety precautions as it is carted past inhabited areas.