Mineral deposits near Tennant Creek estimated to be worth billions

5 August 2020

Minister for Resources, Water and Northern Australia Keith Pitt today issued a joint media release with Senator for the Northern Territory Dr Sam McMahon about the economic potential of natural resources in underexplored areas of the Northern Territory.

Minister Pitt highlighted analysis of new geological data and mineral potential assessments that found an area east of Tennant Creek could possibly hold new deposits worth about $12.4 billion in gross value.

“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,” Minister Pitt said.

The data and assessments were collected and completed as part of the Australia Government’s $225 Exploring for the Future program, which is focused on boosting investment in the resources sector, generating jobs and maintaining a strong economy. New exploration in the East Tennant area was one of three case studies included in the return on investment analysis of the program by ACIL Allen.

Commissioned by Geoscience Australia, ACIL Allen’s analysis estimates the overall direct net economic benefit from exploration in the East Tennant area could be around $638 million.

Minister Pitt said the East Tennant area is 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," Minister Pitt said.

Geoscience Australia, in collaboration with the Northern Territory and Queensland geological surveys, identified the region’s potential through a range of activities undertaken between two remote towns known for their mineral deposits.

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.