New Exploration in the East Tennant Area

Mineral exploration is a necessary activity for the continued success of the mining sector in Australia. It has a public good attribute, which means the socially optimal level of exploration activity is greater than the level of exploration activity that would be generated in a pure private market. Furthermore, a pure private market generates too much brown field exploration and too little green field exploration.

New pre-competitive geoscience information collected between Tennant Creek and Mount Isa under the EFTF program has been used to identify new regions with potential for the discovery of mineral deposits under cover. When combined with the new online Economic Fairways mapping tool, which allows economic potential to be assessed rapidly, the new information has increased the attractiveness of the area east of Tennant Creek for new exploration.

On the basis of new pre-competitive data acquired across northern Australia as part of the EFTF program, an area of approximately 450,000 km2 between Tennant Creek and Mount Isa was identified as an area suitable for regional mineral assessment. The area in question is flanked by active mining regions, but the under cover region in between is generally unexplored for potential mineral deposits. Multidisciplinary datasets were acquired, and assessments of geology, geochemistry and geophysics were undertaken over the region in the first two years of the project. This initial data quickly attracted the interest of mining companies.

Subsequently an area of approximately 28,000 km2 east of Tennant Creek was selected for additional and more detailed analysis. This area had been demonstrated to have moderate to high mineral potential but lacked the data needed to demonstrate the potential economic viability of exploration. The East Tennant area is just one of a number of potentially prospective regions in northern Australia.

In August 2018, on the basis of extensive EFTF data acquisition in the East Tennant area, industry took up three new large exploration tenements covering approximately 2000 km2 in the Tennant Creek to Mount Isa region, a region traditionally overlooked and underexplored.

The results from this project continue to attract the interest of mining companies. Following the lifting of the NAA status on 7 October 2019, eight exploration companies, including a global major, submitted 20 competing mineral tenement applications covering a further 6,300km2. The area applied for represents 77 per cent of the total area made available to mineral explorers via the lifting of the NAA. The Northern Territory Geological Survey has attributed this strong interest to the results delivered by this EFTF funded project.

For more information on the outcome from this study, you can find them in our return on investment report.