The former Rum Jungle mine site (Section 2968 Hundred of Goyder) is located approximately 105km (by road) south of Darwin, near Batchelor in the Northern Territory. The site was declared a Restricted Use Area in 1989 under the Soil Conservation and Land Utilisation Act (Northern Territory) and is closed to public access.
Mining and mineral processing occurred from 1954 to 1971 producing 3,530 tonnes of uranium oxide and 20,000 tonnes of copper concentrate.
Activities at the site led to significant environmental impacts primarily caused by acid rock drainage, resulting in pollution of the East Branch of the Finniss River. The site underwent rehabilitation from 1983 to 1986 at a total cost of $18.6 million.
The original objectives of the works were to:
- achieve a major reduction in surface water pollution;
- reduce public health hazards, including radiation levels;
- reduce pollution in White’s and Intermediate open cut pits; and
- implement aesthetic improvements including revegetation.
The former Rum Jungle mine site, contained within Area 4 of the Finniss River Land Claim (1981) was excluded from grant to the Finniss River Land Trust due to the concerns of the joint traditional Aboriginal owners of the site - Kungarakan and Warai. A decision in respect of the grant of the former Rum Jungle mine site is still pending.
Although at the time of the 1980s works the objectives were deemed to have been achieved, more recent studies have documented the gradual deterioration of the original rehabilitation works. In light of this and given advances in best practice standards in mine closure and rehabilitation, the Northern Territory and Commonwealth Governments recognise a need to develop an improved rehabilitation strategy for the site.
The Rum Jungle Rehabilitation Project
On 7 October 2009 the Commonwealth and Northern Territory Governments entered into a four year $7.048 million National Partnership Agreement (NPA) on the management of the former Rum Jungle Mine site .
The purpose of the NPA is to undertake various studies to inform the development of an updated rehabilitation strategy, which may then lead to future rehabilitation works under new arrangements.
The key outcomes of the NPA are:
- improved understanding of the current state of the environment;
- improved site management; and
- development of an improved rehabilitation strategy for the site.
The above outcomes will be achieved through:
- ongoing environmental monitoring programs;
- site maintenance activities; and
- comprehensive technical studies.
The NPA is complemented by an Implementation Plan (IP) which outlines the milestones, performance measures and payment arrangements. The NPA and IP are being driven by the Northern Territory Department of Mines and Energy with technical oversight from the Rum Jungle Working Group which comprises representatives from Northern Territory and Commonwealth Government Agencies and the Northern Land Council.
The purpose of this website is to provide a range of information regarding the history of the former Rum Jungle mine site and new information obtained under the National Partnership Agreement. This website will be updated on a regular basis.
In May 2013 the Northern Territory Department of Mines and Energy (DME, formerly Department of Resources) successfully completed Stage 1 of the Rum Jungle Rehabilitation Project (NPA), with the development of the Conceptual Rehabilitation Plan on the former Rum Jungle mine site (The Plan). The Plan included the findings from the various technical studies undertaken as part of the NPA and proposed a preferred rehabilitation strategy for the site which best met environmental, cultural, financial and technical feasibility considerations, following a rigorous assessment and consultation process involving the traditional owners of the site - Kungarakan and Warai. In June 2013, the Commonwealth Minister for Resources, Energy and Tourism endorsed the Plan, including the preferred rehabilitation strategy.
In August 2013, the Commonwealth and NT Government signed a new Project Agreement for the Management of the Former Rum Jungle Mine Site (Stage 2) . Under this Agreement the Commonwealth has committed to providing an additional $11.561 million towards progressing rehabilitation at the former Rum Jungle mine site.
DME will project-manage the activities of Stage 2 which include;
- Site maintenance and environmental monitoring;
- Technical investigations;
- Rehabilitation design works, including post-rehabilitation activities that meet relevant legislative, environmental and cultural requirements; and
- Construction-ready specifications, drawings and costings for the rehabilitation design works.
The Commonwealth Department of Industry (formerly Resources, Energy and Tourism) have committed to supporting capacity-building opportunities for traditional Aboriginal owners.
Stage 2 was completed in June 2016.
In September 2017, the Australian and Northern Territory Governments entered into a new Project Agreement to optimise and finalise the design for the Rum Jungle rehabilitation strategy from Stage 2.
Please follow this link to view the Project Agreement for the Management of the former Rum Jungle Mine site (Stage 2A).
The Department of Primary Industry and Resources is the lead agency delivering the scope of works to progress Stage 2A of the Rum Jungle Rehabilitation Project. Section 2968 (the former Rum Jungle Mine area) is recognised as vacant crown land and also Land Under Claim for the Finniss River Aboriginal Land Trust.
Stage 2A priorities involve:
- Site management and maintenance and environmental monitoring activities.
- Maintenance works on the Waste Rock Dump cover system at Rum Jungle Creek South to ensure the site continues to meet international standards for radiation protection (see attached).
- Consultation with Traditional Owners regarding the final design (leaving intermediate pit open and the new waste dump to the north).
- Confirm arrangements for progressing clay borrow and haul road.
- Targeted technical investigations to reach a high level of confidence and certainty in the design and methodologies (see attached).
- Technical studies for the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).
- The preparation and submission of an EIS (see EIS terms of reference ).
These priorities will provide input into the detailed business case to fund Stage 3 of the project: the rehabilitation of Rum Jungle mine. There is no intention to change designs or methodologies, the objective is to refine them in the interest of ensuring best environmental and cultural outcomes.
A number of investigations have been carried out or are underway, with more planned for the remainder of 2018 and early 2019, in order to fill remaining data gaps for the final design. These include:
- Install additional monitoring bores for groundwater.
- Geotechnical assessments for the stability of the pit walls and the location of the new waste storage facility.
- Geochemical characterisation of waste that will be relocated.
- Flora and fauna surveys:
- To survey undisturbed areas such as those for borrow materials, haul roads and the new waste storage facility.
- Fill knowledge gaps in current flora and fauna work.
- Re-vegetation trials.
- Historic and cultural heritage surveys.
- Radiological hazard assessments.
- Baseline air quality, noise and vibration assessment.
- Surface and ground water monitoring.
- Contaminated land assessment to determine land use limitations.
- Environmental impact and risk assessments.
- Engineering to design to rationalise and finalise engineering designs and methodologies.
- Assessment and design to inform maintenance works on the waste rock dump cover system at Rum Jungle Creek South.
A significant introduction for Stage 2A is the establishment of a new governance board to provide direction to the Stage 2A Rum Jungle Project. Please see the governance board's terms of reference for more information.
- Videoclip from National Film and Sound Archive (NFSA)
This footage of Rum Jungle has duration of 1:59 mins and was filmed by Charles and Elsa Chauvel as part of the series Australian Walkabout which aired on the ABC.
- Batchelor Museum