Tennant Creek Mining and Gas Projects

The Northern Territory Government (NTG) 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 Northern Territory (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 110 km north of Tennant Creek.

  • 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.

Jemena – Northern Gas Pipeline

Jemena is constructing a 622km pipeline Northern Gas Pipeline (NGP) from Tennant Creek to Mount Isa, connecting Territory gas supplies with the east coast market, delivering jobs and development opportunities in the region. Jemena is building the pipeline with local and Indigenous participation.

Construction of the $800 million project which commenced in July 2017 is nearing completion. Jemena will own and operate the pipeline with the first gas scheduled to flow at the end of 2018.

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.

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

Gold and copper resources

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 NTGS 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.

Maps showing gold and copper resources in the Tennant Creek region are shown here:

Legacy mines

The Mining Management Act 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 $750,000 has been spent on eight 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 it is 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 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.

Fossicking

A number of dedicated fossicking areas are located throughout Central Australia to encourage more people to seek out the hidden treasures. The online STRIKEand 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 NTG’s Fossicking in the Northern Territory website.

Tourism trails around former mine sites

The Tennant Creek Regional Economic Development Committee (REDC) requested the Department of Tourism and Culture (DTC) to investigate the potential for development of a tourism Mining Heritage Trail on old mining areas previously rehabilitated through the Department of Primary Industry and Resources (DPIR) 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.

DTC and DPIR are working together to identify old mining areas that may be suitable for incorporation into tourism Mining Heritage Trails.  The departments are also working with the Central Land Council (CLC) 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 create and 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 Mining Heritage trail was identified as a project that will be funded. This project will ensure the consultation process with CLC and the traditional owners is completed before any commencement of work is undertaken.

Supporting exploration in the Barkly

The NT Geological Survey (NTGS) within DPIR 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 new 4-year (2018-2022), $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 favorable 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 the poorly understood geology of the Rover mineral field southwest of Tennant Creek. There will also be new geoscience mapping programs 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.

The NTGS is also collaborating and coinvesting with Geoscience Australia to substantially upgrade geoscience knowledge in the Barkly region through the Commonwealth’s four-year (2016–2020), $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, passive seismic and gravity)
  • soil and groundwater geochemistry
  • drilling programs, to be undertaken east of Tennant Creek in 2019

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. There will also be new geoscience mapping programs in the eastern Barkly.

Last updated: 03 September 2018