The Northern Territory contains a number of lateritic bauxite deposits along its northern coastline. There are two bauxite mines in operation in the Northern Territory, both near Nhulunbuy in eastern Arnhem Land.
287 million tonnes
12.01 million tonnes
Remaining JORC resources
>180 million tonnes
Value of production in 2018/19
Production ranking in Australia
The Carpentaria Basin contains Rio Tinto Alcan’s Gove mine which accounts for nearly all past bauxite production and 90% of identified bauxite resources in the Northern Territory (NT). A smaller Aboriginal-owned mining operation at the Dhupuma Plateau near Gove commenced operation in 2017.
The Gove bauxite mine near Nhulunbuy has been in production since 1971. An alumina refinery operated in Gove from 1972 until 2014 but all bauxite is now exported. Bauxite at Gove averages 3.7m in thickness and occurs in deeply lateritised, dissected plateau remnants overlying the Cretaceous Yirrkala Formation.
The gibbsitic bauxite is low in silica (3% reactive SiO2) and is mainly pisolitic and tubular in nature. At the end of 2017 the Gove operation had Proven and Probable Ore Reserves of 147 Mt at 49.4% Al2O3, with additional Measured, Indicated and Inferred Mineral Resources of 33 Mt at 49.3% Al2O3.
A second bauxite mine is in operation on the Dhupuma Plateau, immediately south of the Gove mineral lease, and is operated by the Aboriginal-owned Gulkula Mining Company Pty Ltd. The operation opened in August 2017 and is expected to ramp up to full annual production of 500,000 tpa bauxite within the first four years, and continue this rate of production for a projected 15 year mine life.
The mine is associated with a Mining Training Centre for local Aboriginal people, established with the support of Rio Tinto. The ore is sold to Rio Tinto’s Gove operation.