Tennant Creek Mining and Gas Projects

The Northern Territory (NT) Government is committed to sustainable resources development for the benefit of Territorians. The development of Tennant Creek as a mining, minerals and gas services and supply centre will help deliver new industries, business opportunities and employment to Tennant Creek and across the NT.

This priority work will seek to:

  • stimulate minerals and oil and gas exploration in the Barkly region
  • support mining development in a sustainable manner to maximise economic benefits and minimise environmental impacts
  • address environmental and public safety issues from historical mining activities.

Major projects

Many of the NT’s major mining projects scheduled to come online in the next five years are in the southern half of the NT and have the potential to support the growth of Tennant Creek as a service and supply hub. These are in addition to OM Holdings Ltd’s Bootu Creek manganese mine which is already in operation 110km north of Tennant Creek.

  • *TRL Tennant Creek Pty Ltd’s Warrego Gold Ore Treatment Plant was authorised on 4 January 2019 to commence refurbishment works to the existing Warrego Mill.
  • *TRL Tennant Creek Pty Ltd has applied to conduct an exploration program at the historical Eldorado Pit. The drilling program is targeting extensions to known mineralisation.
  • *Edna Beryl has applied to develop a second shaft (stage 2) adjacent to the existing shaft to conduct further resource definition drilling (underground) to confirm the extent of the resource.
  • *OM (Manganese) Limited was authorised to develop Yaka 4 Pit at the Bootu Creek Manganese Mine on 29 November 2018.
  • *Pipeline from Edna Beryl to Northern Star was authorised on 18 October 2018 for the purposes of continued development to the Edna Beryl Mine, allowing the greater than anticipated groundwater inflows into the mine to be pumped to Northern Star.
  • Emmerson Resources Limited has entered into an agreement with Territory Resources Ltd to build a central milling facility at the Warrego mill site.
  • Emmerson’s Black Snake Project near Tennant Creek was authorised in May 2018, providing an opportunity to fast-track development of a second small mining project after Edna Beryl.
  • Emmerson’s Edna Beryl Gold Mine is an underground gold mine located about 37km north of Tennant Creek Township. The mine opened in September 2017, with a life expectancy of up-to two years and the potential to be the highest-grade gold mine in Australia.
  • Battery Hill’s gold stamp battery has recently undergone substantial refurbishment and in December 2017 the first gold was poured. Improvements to gold recovery have been continuing, and to date 300 ounces of gold have been poured.
  • TNG Ltd’s Mount Peake vanadium-titanium-iron project and Verdant Minerals Ltd’s Ammaroo phosphate project, are major developing mining projects south of Tennant Creek in the Barrow Creek area. Currently in the advanced stages of regulatory approvals and have potential to go into construction within two years. These have the potential to be long-term mines with a life in excess of 20 years.
  • Rover 1 copper-gold project, Hatches Creek tungsten and Wonarah phosphate projects, are other prospects in the Tennant Creek area which have potential for future mining development.

* Major project updates - current as of 23 January 2019

The Northern Gas Pipeline (NGP) will transport approximately 90 terajoules (TJ) per day of Territory gas 622km from the Amadeus Gas Pipeline near Tennant Creek to the Carpentaria Gas Pipeline near Mount Isa. Some 457km of the pipeline are within the NT. Construction of the $800 million project was completed in November 2018 with commissioning being completed in December 2018. Jemena own and operate the pipeline with first commercial gas flowing on the 3 January 2019.

The project employed 385 people from within the NT of which 153 were Aboriginal workers. In the Barkly region 264 jobs were created. Longer term the project will employ nine staff in Tennant Creek.

Businesses were issued 158 contracts within the NT, 11 of which issued to Aboriginal businesses and 93 awarded to Barkly region businesses.

During the project Jemena developed a Small to Medium Enterprise (SME) Business Investment Fund which assisted eligible SMEs in the NT to build their capacity and capability to competitively bid for work on the NGP Project.

Jemena has invested in a range of local not-for-profit organisations to foster community wellbeing. These include:

  • donating a portable defibrillator to the Barkly State Emergency Service
  • sponsoring the Barkly Regional Arts 2017 Desert Harmony Festival
  • providing in-kind and financial support to the Stars Foundation
  • providing a financial donation to Anyinginyi Health Aboriginal Corporation
  • providing a financial donation to the Tennant Creek Women’s Refuge.

Updates on the project and further information about local opportunities can be found on the Jemena website.

The Tennant Creek region is home to many former mining sites from when the area was a highly-productive gold and copper field. Whilst gold was historically the most sought after commodity, in the Tennant Creek region it also often occurs with significant copper.

Past production in the Tennant Creek field has totalled around five million ounces of gold and around 500,000 tonnes of copper. Significant resources of both commodities remain undeveloped in the field, in numerous small to medium size deposits.

The NT Geological Survey estimates that there is over 1.3 million ounces (or more and 41 tonnes) of known remaining resources in 36 hard rock and three tailings deposits, of which around one million ounces are defined to Joint Ore Reserves Committee status. There is also an estimated 235,000 tonnes of contained copper remaining within known deposits in the field.

The Mining Management Act 2001 requires all operators to pay a 1% levy on their security. Funds from the levy are being used in Tennant Creek to:

  • improve safety around former mine sites
  • reduce environmental impacts.

Remediation of mine sites in Tennant Creek is being leveraged to develop new tourism trails and fossicking areas to support local development.

Since 2015 approximately $800,000 has been spent on ten projects in the Tennant Creek region to address safety and environmental issues with a focus on local company contractors and Aboriginal involvement. Seven of these projects were awarded to Territory businesses and six included Aboriginal employment and education opportunities.

In 2018/2019 financial year it was planned for approximately $300,000 worth of works to be undertaken in the Tennant Creek area. These works include:

  • Lone Star mine area - making safe shafts and adits, installing fencing, restoration of headframe, signage and capping boreholes
  • Kunjarra (The Pebbles) Quarry - safeguarding the quarry pit with perimeter fence and signs
  • Dolomite and Pup mines - making safe shafts and removal / disposal of waste materials (including asbestos) and minor infrastructure from the site.

These projects address safety and environmental issues posed by legacy mines, and provide employment opportunities and long term beneficial land uses.

Find out more about legacy mine site remediation works.

A number of dedicated fossicking areas are located throughout Central Australia to encourage more people to seek out the hidden treasures. The online STRIKE and GEMIS platforms support fossickers with the latest tenure and geoscience information.

Fossickers can also access information and a large range of maps and historical reports on mining and exploration undertaken around the Territory on the NT Government’s Fossicking in the Northern Territory website.

The Tennant Creek Regional Economic Development Committee requested the Department of Industry, Tourism and Trade (DITT) to investigate the potential for development of a tourism mining heritage trail on old mining areas previously rehabilitated through the Legacy Mines Remediation Projects. This request recognises Tennant Creek’s rich and varied mining history dating back to the 1930’s, having at one stage been the third largest gold producing area in Australia with over 210 tonnes of gold mined in the area.

Many accessible mining relics, artefacts and other viewable assets exist in the Tennant Creek region all of which can combine to offer a valuable tourism experience.

DITT are working to identify old mining areas that may be suitable for incorporation into tourism mining heritage trails. The department are also working with the Central Land Council and through them with traditional owners to ensure appropriate appreciation and handling of cultural sensitivities relating to any proposed development on the final site location. This initiative is being supported by the local mining industry and includes returning the Battery Hill battery to operating condition.

In February 2018 the NT Government announced a tourism stimulus package to attract more visitors and create more jobs across the Northern Territory. As part of the stimulus package $5.5 million was allocated to Tennant Creek to revitalise and improve visitor experience. As part of this stimulus the Visitor Information Centre located at the Battery Hill Mining Centre was identified for upgrade works and improved interpretation of the mining history will also be included. A mining heritage trail was also identified as a project. The Central Land Council and traditional owners will determine the location of trails and interpretation.

The NT Geological Survey (NTGS) within the Department of Industry, Tourism and Trade is supporting the growth of the exploration industry in the Barkly region to bring forward the next generation of major resource discoveries in the region. The Territory Government’s 4-year (2018 to 2022), $26 million Resourcing the Territory initiative, includes a range of pre-competitive geoscience programs to support the growth of exploration for a range of commodities around Tennant Creek and throughout the Barkly region.

Investment in publicly available geoscientific information attracts exploration activity by highlighting areas of favourable potential, lowering exploration risk and increasing exploration efficiency to make exploration investment more attractive.

A number of new programs are being developed in the Barkly region under Resourcing the Territory. This includes programs to provide new geoscience knowledge designed to diversify the commodity targets and broaden the search space for minerals in the Tennant Creek area. This will include studies of mineral systems that are being scoped with by NTGS and their research partners. New geoscience mapping programs are also now underway in the Mount Drummond and Carrara Range areas of the eastern Barkly that will be used to better interpret the hidden geology beneath the Barkly Tableland.

In addition to the acquisition of new geoscience data, NTGS will be compiling a complete database of all mineral exploration geochemistry and drilling data from past exploration across the Barkly, as a fundamental new baseline dataset to assist the next generation of explorers in the region. Compilation of all data for the Tennant Creek 1:250,000 mapsheet area will be complete by mid-2019, after which the program will roll out over the entire Barkly region, with all data capture completed in 2019-20.

The NTGS is also collaborating and co-investing with Geoscience Australia to substantially upgrade geoscience knowledge in the Barkly region through the Commonwealth’s four-year (2016 to 2020), $100.5 million Exploring for the Future program, which is designed to investigate the potential of mineral, energy and groundwater resources in northern Australia. The Barkly region, between Tennant Creek and Mount Isa, has been chosen as the focus area for both the minerals and energy components of this initiative.

Programs underway in the Barkly region are designed to look at the geology between Tennant Creek and Mount Isa at a range of scales to understand the resource potential of the geology buried beneath the black soil plains, this includes:

  • a range of geophysical programs (seismic, magnetotelluric, electromagnetic, passive seismic and gravity)
  • soil and groundwater geochemistry
  • drilling programs, to be undertaken east of Tennant Creek in 2019-20.

These will be incorporated into regional geological interpretations of buried geology and three dimensional geological models to develop an understanding and prospectus of the resource potential of the region.

Last updated: 20 July 2021

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