The Hon. AMANDA FAZIO: I ask a question without notice of the Minister for Mineral Resources. What action has been taken in relation to minerals exploration in the Southern Highlands?
The Hon. EDDIE OBEID: The Deputy Leader of the Opposition might listen to my response. The New South Wales Government has completed minerals surveys of more than 50 per cent of our State, and the Government's commitment to encouraging minerals exploration is continuing. The New South Wales Government's geological survey mapping team recently completed an analysis of the Goulburn region. The results of our survey indicate that the Crookwell area—which is 45 kilometres north-west of Goulburn—may contain deposits of zinc, lead, copper, gold and silver. This is similar to the Woodlawn deposits near Goulburn which have previously been mined. In July 1999 the New South Wales Government declared a mineral allocation area for Crookwell.
Expressions of interest were then sought from appropriately qualified exploration companies to apply for a licence. I am pleased to announce a New South Wales based company, Golden Cross Operations Pty Ltd, has successfully applied for an exploration licence. Golden Cross Operations has a strong interest in the region and in New South Wales. It has already invested $1.9 million to explore the Kempfield area, and it holds exploration licences for the central west, in Cobar and in the Broken Hill area. Any future development of mineral deposits would be of enormous economic benefit to the southern tablelands region. This work is a further expression of the Carr Government's commitment to fostering mining development and resultant job creation in regional and rural New South Wales.