History

The Rum Jungle area and uranium mineralisation was initially discovered by Goyder’s survey party in 1869 however was unrecognised till a local farmer and prospector John (Jack) White in 1949 collected green and yellow rock samples.

Exploration of the area, by the Australian Government, took place between 1954 and 1971.

The Rum Jungle Mine operated from 1953 till 1971 producing 3,530 tonnes of uranium oxide and 20,000 tonnes of copper concentrate.

The mine operation practices created legacy landforms, groundwater and surface water contamination, including significant AMD issues and impacts to the East Branch of the Finniss River.

The site is contained within area 4 of the Finniss River Land Claim (1981) but was excluded from grant to the Finniss River Land Trust due to the concerns of the joint traditional Aboriginal owners, the Kungarakan and Warai people, over the site. No decision on the potential grant of the Rum Jungle site has been made due to the site’s current environmental condition.

The Australian Government attempted to rehabilitate the site from 1983 to 1986 at a cost of $18.6 million. While the original rehabilitation works were deemed successful, more recent studies have documented the gradual deterioration of the original rehabilitation works, particularly in the context of advancements made in mine rehabilitation.

In 2009, further rehabilitation works commenced in partnership with the Australian and Territory governments, and the Kungarakan and Warai people.

Further information about the remediation planning since 2009 can be found in the rehabilitation plan page.

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  • 2020 - Stage 2B commenced under federal funding agreement
  • 2017 - Stage 2A commenced under new national partnership agreement (NPA) and completed in 2020
  • 2013 - Stage 2 commenced under new NPA and completed in 2016
  • 2009 - Australian and NT governments enter into four year NPA on the management of the former Rum Jungle Mine site; stage 1 commenced and completed in 2013
  • 1983 - 1986 Australian Government rehabilitation
  • 1971 - Rum Jungle Mine closure
  • 1954 to 1971 - Exploration of the area, by the Australian Government
  • 1949 - Local farmer and prospector John (Jack) White collected green and yellow rock samples
  • 1869 - Rum Jungle area and uranium mineralisation initial discovery by Goyder’s survey party.

Rum Jungle aeriel view 1977Rum Jungle aeriel view 1981Rum Jungle aeriel view 1990Rum Jungle aeriel view 2010Geophysicist Don Dyson (left) and Geologist Hector Ward use a Geiger counter to examine a mineral outcrop in a belt of uranium bear (1955) National Archives of Australia: A1200, L19458. Jack White, prospector who discovered the first uranium deposit at Rum Jungle in 1949 (1955). National Archives of Australia: A1200, L19444  Bulldozer costeaning at Rum Jungle (1959). National Archives of Australia: A1200, L30438Treatment plant, Rum Jungle (1957). National Archives of Australia: A1200, L23831Rum Jungle mine site with stockpiled ore in foreground and White’s flooded open cut in the background (1963). National Archives of Australia: A12111, 1/1963/10/40Bulldozer costeaning at Rum Jungle mine site (1955). National Archives of Australia: A1200, L19450Geophysicist Don Dyson (left), Jack White (middle) and Geologist Hector Ward examining ore sample at Rum Jungle using Geiger counter (1955). National Archives of Australia: A1200, L19445White’s open cut put (1958). National Archives of Australia: A1200, L25495Dyson’s open cut pit, Rum Jungle (1958). National Archives of Australia: A1200, L25499Vehicles driving into White’s open cut pit, Rum Jungle (1958). National Archives of Australia: A1200, L26915 White’s open cut pit with White’s overburden heap in the background (1958). National Archives of Australia: A1200, L26916Rum Jungle mine site treatment plant (1959). National Archives of Australia: A1200, L30436Drilling at Rum Jungle mine site (1959). National Archives of Australia: A1200, L30437Geologists at Rum Jungle mine site (1955). National Archives of Australia: A1200, L19446Diamond drill teams at Rum Jungle mine site (1955). National Archives of Australia: A1200, L19448White’s open cut pit, Rum Jungle mine site (1957). National Archives of Australia: A1200, L22203Loading a haul truck in White’s open cut pit, Rum Jungle mine site (1957). National Archives of Australia: A1200, L23111Top of White’s overburden heap with treatment plant and stockpile areas in the background, Rum Jungle (1957). National Archives of Australia: A1200, L23109White’s open cut pit, Rum Jungle (1957). National Archives of Australia: A1200, L23113The then Prime Minister of Australia R.G Menzies officially opening the treatment plant at Rum Jungle (1957). National Archives of Australia: A1200, L23817A depression channel under construction, Rum Jungle (1957). National Archives of Australia: A1200, L23834White’s open cut pit, Rum Jungle (1958). National Archives of Australia: A1200, L25494Diamond drilling team at Rum Jungle (1958). National Archives of Australia: A1200, L25496Diamond drilling team at Rum Jungle (1958). National Archives of Australia: A1200, L25497White’s open cut pit, Rum Jungle (1958). National Archives of Australia: A1200, L25498Dyson’s open cut pit, Rum Jungle (1958). National Archives of Australia: A1200, L25501Treatment plant area, Rum Jungle (1958). National Archives of Australia: A1200, L25504Treatment plant area in foreground with White’s open cut pit in the background (1958). National Archives of Australia: A1200, L25505  Interior view of the treatment plant, Rum Jungle (1958). National Archives of Australia: A1200, L27145Inside the treatment plant, Rum Jungle (1958). National Archives of Australia: A1200, L27143Dyson’s open cut pit flooded (1960). National Archives of Australia: A1200, L35453

  • Rum Jungle Mine history - Discovery and exploration PDF (459.5 KB)
    The history of the Rum Jungle site from the perspective of discovery of uranium mineralisation in 1869 through to the commencement of full scale mining and production of uranium ore in 1953.
  • Rum Jungle project PDF (2.0 MB)
    A report on the uranium mining and treatment industry established by the Australian at Rum Jungle, and its contribution to the development of the NT of Australia (AAEC, 1963).
  • Finniss River land claim 1981 PDF (1.5 MB)
    A report by the Aboriginal Land Commissioner, Mr Justice Toohey to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and to the Administrator of the NT.

Last updated: 19 October 2021

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