Silver Mines will be popping the Christmas champagne after the New South Wales Department of Planning and Environment (DPE) announced it has assessed the Bowdens open pit project as being in the public interest and approvable.

The DPE has now referred the project to the Independent Planning Commission of New South Wales (IPC) for final determination.

With a Mineral Resource of 318 million ounces silver equivalent the project is the largest undeveloped silver deposit in Australia and one of the largest in the world – and it’s still growing.

Silver Mines (ASX:SVL) Managing Director Anthony McClure said: “The DPE’s referral to the IPC is a significant milestone for the Bowdens Silver Project.

“It’s a major step forward in the approval process, which follows extensive technical and environmental assessments along with close consultation with the community, stakeholders and NSW Government agencies over the past years.”

“Our team has delivered a robust and environmentally responsible project and this decision is recognition of the significant long-term economic and social benefits the project will deliver.”

Importantly, the DPE Assessment Report noted the NSW Government’s commitment in its Critical Minerals and High-Tech Metals Strategy to develop the state’s potential to be a major global supplier and processor of critical minerals. This strategy identifies silver and zinc as critical minerals for developing technologies and renewable energy.

Next steps

The IPC will now review DPE’s Assessment Report and consider submissions from stakeholders before making a final determination on Bowdens.

The approval is subject to conditions of consent, which Silver Mines has reviewed and has accepted.

“We understand that the IPC will call a Public Hearing for early 2023 with a final determination to be made soon afterwards,” Mr McClure said.

The buzz on Bowdens

The open pit mine’s 23-year life already includes 16.5 years initially producing about six million ounces of silver per year plus zinc and lead as by-products.

However ongoing drilling indicates the pit has more scope for greater tonnages within the current Ore Reserve, as well as extensions to mineralisation outside the planned open-cut pit.

What lies beneath

Directly below the open cut project is an underground resource totalling 42.9 million ounces silver equivalent.

Of that Maiden Mineral Resource released in September an impressive 56% of tonnes are in the higher-confidence measured and indicated categories.

A Scoping Study is now underway for potential underground mining opportunities that could extend the life of the project as exploration activities also continue.

These have been spurred on by the discovery of gold and zinc from just 92.4m and the “Bowdens Caldera”. has defined potential system extensions both close to Bowdens and regionally.

“From what we’re continuing to see underground, and given that it’s all open, I feel confident in saying that this ore body will still be producing silver and providing local jobs in 50 years. We don’t know the full extent of it yet, but we know that it’s vast,” McClure said.

Green energy to power silver price

Silver Mines’ approvals milestone closely follows a Metals Focus report forecasting global silver demand will jump 16% from 2021 to a record high this year of 1.21 Boz.

The report also predicted a multi-decade high deficit of 194 Moz, given supply constraints.

The historic high comes thanks to new peaks in the key areas of industrial demand, including for the significant amounts of silver used in solar panels and EV batteries,  and physical investment.

The Bowdens Silver Project Assessment Report and other information can be found at:




This article was developed in collaboration with Silver Mines (ASX:SVL), a Stockhead advertiser at the time of publishing.


This article does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.