A company with Chinese links has applied to look for copper and gold on Canberra's northern doorstep, outraging some residents who have already been through a fight against wind turbines in the area.
Hall district beef producers Phil and Jan Peelgrane, who farm just over the northern border of the ACT, said they would ''lock the gate'' to keep out the mineral explorers, saying they didn't have the energy to mount another campaign against another company. The pair were among those who successfully fought against wind turbines proposed for the area by ActewAGL and later Japanese interests.
''A lot of people are so worn out,'' Mrs Peelgrane said.
''I was talking to someone not that long ago who said if it ever happened again, she'd have to leave. She couldn't go through it again, it was just so stressful. It's quite sickening to think we have to fight again.''
Mr Peelgrane said he had been on the property for 18 years and had no idea about the licence application until contacted by The Canberra Times.
''It's pretty clear it starts from the boundary of our property,'' he said, of the proposed exploration area.
''There's an awful lot of people in the area they've outlined. I imagine once people find out about it they'll be stirred. So I think we'll just have to unite and lock them out. And if everyone adopts the same attitude, we win. It's only when people start taking the money things fall apart.''
A company called CGNM Resources has applied to the NSW Government for an exploration licence to cover an area of about 200 square kilometres stretching from the northern border of the ACT near the new suburbs of Gungahlin towards Spring Range and Nanima.
Company spokeswoman Shao Qing said it wanted to look for copper and gold in the area. The company also had licences in the Broken Hill area of NSW.
''It's an Australian company but most of the geologists are Chinese,'' she said.
''The first step is exploration and if we find something interesting, maybe we do the drilling.''
Anyone applying for an exploration licence only has to inform people through a notice in a local newspaper and a statewide newspaper.
The NSW Department of Industry and Investment, Regional Infrastructure and Services said an exploration licence gave the holder the exclusive right to explore for the minerals specified in the licence.
It did not automatically entitle the holder to enter any of the lands in the area covered by the licence without a prior access arrangement with the landholder.
An access arrangement also had to provide compensation for loss or interference in the running of the property.
The purpose of exploration was to identify the quantity and quality of resources and to determine the viability of proceeding to mine the resource but did not guarantee a mining lease would be granted.
Only ''a very small percentage'' of land subject to exploration licences become a mine.
A spokeswoman for Resources and Energy, NSW Trade and Investment said the department ''does not have or provide information as to the ownership of the land''.
''However the exploration licence holder is required to have an access arrangement with any landholder before conducting any prospecting on the land,'' she said.
The land is in the Yass Valley Council area but general manager David Rowe said he was unaware of the licence application until contacted by The Canberra Times.
The communities around Spring Range and Nanima engaged in a protracted fight against wind turbines in their area in 2005-06. That development was first proposed by ActewAGL and later Japanese interests which eventually dropped their plans.
Mrs Peelgrane said the area was almost rural residential, with many people living on small holdings.
''It'd be terrible, imagine someone mining on your property,'' she said. ''We only have 200 acres [80 hectares], it's not like we have thousands of acres.''
She said people valued their lifestyle but fighting against a development such as the wind turbines took their toll.
''No one who's been through it can understand the impact is has on your life,'' she said.
''It was over two years, nearly three years fighting against an unknown, people who won't speak up. And this looks like it's going to be the same, if not worse.''