Mineral deposits near Tennant Creek show huge potential

Joint media release with Senator for the Northern Territory Dr Sam McMahon

New scientific data provided through a Federal Government-funded mining exploration program has revealed the enormous economic potential of just some of the Northern Territory’s natural resources.

Analysis of new geological data and mineral potential assessments has found an area east of Tennant Creek possibly holds new deposits worth up to $12.4 billion in gross value.

Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia Keith Pitt said the data and assessments were collected as part of the Coalition Government’s $225 million Exploring for the Future program.

“This program has a strong focus on boosting investment in the resources sector, generating jobs and maintaining a strong economy,” Minister Pitt said.

“The data shows that the key to economic growth in the Northern Territory will be investing in its gas and resource potential.

“This analysis by ACIL Allen estimates the overall direct net economic benefit from exploration in the East Tennant area could be around $638 million,” he said.

“Detailed data collected in the East Tennant area suggests it could host a new mineral deposit with characteristics similar to those of the Ernest Henry near Mount Isa – one of the largest copper-gold mines in Australia.

“Geoscience Australia, in collaboration with the Northern Territory and Queensland geological surveys, identified the region’s potential through a range of activities undertaken between Tennant Creek and Mount Isa.

“Lying between two remote towns known for their mineral deposits, it is not surprising the East Tennant area turned out to be prospective.

“Exploring for the Future has helped narrow the search down for mineral explorers, giving them the pre-competitive data they need to make an investment decision.”

Minister Pitt said the East Tennant area was just one promising example of resource potential uncovered by the program between Tennant Creek and Mount Isa.

“Based on data collected by Exploring for the Future, oil and gas company Santos has committed $95 million to exploration in the South Nicholson Basin, on the border of the Northern Territory and Queensland, through a farm-in with Armour Energy,” he said.

“Understanding the resource potential of these underexplored areas of Australia is key to continuing our economic success story and supporting the recovery post COVID-19. The data and information collected by the program will support and de-risk resource decision-making, investment and jobs creation for years to come.

“The Coalition Government believes the resources sector will be a key driver of supporting the economy post COVID-19, so the success of the Exploring for the Future program and realising the resource potential in regional areas is an important component of ensuring the mines and ultimately jobs of the future.”

Senator Sam McMahon welcomed the news for the Territory, acknowledging the find could result in hundreds of intergenerational jobs and opportunities right across the Territory, but particularly in the Barkly region.

Senator McMahon said: “The Federal Government’s Exploring for the Future program is a great example of how targeted Government spending can assist industry to not only identify, but have confidence in the projects they invest in.

“This project alone could return $638 million to the Territory, noting exploration of new deposits in the East Tennant Creek area capable of providing $12.4 billion in revenue – sadly it won’t wipe the huge debt accumulated under the Gunner Government, but it will go a long way in ensuring the Territory gets back on track with its economic recovery.”

Exploring for the Future

Led by Geoscience Australia, the Exploring for the Future program uses cutting-edge techniques to collect new data and information about potential mineral, energy and groundwater resource systems on the surface and deep underground.

A $100 million investment in Exploring for the Future by the Australian Government in 2016 has delivered a detailed picture of potential resources in northern Australia. In June 2020, the Australian Government announced it will invest an additional $125 million over four years to expand the program nationwide.

Information about Exploring for the Future can be found at ga.gov.au/eftf.

New exploration in the East Tennant area was one of three case studies included in the return on investment analysis of the Exploring for the Future program by ACIL Allen, which is available from acilallen.com.au/projects/program-evaluation/exploring-for-the-future-program-return-on-investment-analysis.

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