Copper

Copper

The Northern Territory is highly prospective for copper, with a large range of deposits and deposit styles, and nearly two million tonnes of historical production.
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Total production
1.98 Mt copper
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Remaining JORC resources
1.29 Mt copper

The Territory has a strong copper exploration industry, with a large number of companies exploring for copper in a range of greenfield and brownfield settings. There is no current copper production, but the Jervois copper project in the Aileron Province has all mining approvals in place.

Read the copper factsheet PDF (1.2 MB)

Projects

The Aileron Province is a significant emerging greenfields copper province. The most significant known deposit and most advanced copper project is at Jervois, 300km northeast of Alice Springs. Mineralisation at Jervois occurs in a series of strata-bound, subvertical sulfide-rich deposits. There are numerous other copper deposits in the Aileron Province, with a variety of mineralisation styles.

In approvals process

JORC resources

Exploration results

  • Jervois KGL Resources Reward:  65m @ 3.6% Cu, 98.6 g/t Ag, 0.45 g/t Au
  • HendrixTodd River Resources Ltd 55.7m @ 1.0% Cu, 3.3% Zn, 1.5% Pb, 43.5 g/t Ag, 13.5m @ 15.9% Zn, 5.75% Pb, 0.90% Cu, 89 g/t Ag
  • GrappleIGO Ltd NL 11.4m @ 7.9 g/t Au, 20.7 g/t Ag, 0.8% Cu, 1.1% Zn, 0.5% Pb, 0.1% Co
  • Phreaker – IGO Ltd 17.74m @ 2.13% Cu, 0.21 g/t Au, 9 g/t Ag

Other companies exploring for copper in the Aileron Province include Inca Minerals Ltd, Prodigy Gold NL and Plutonic Ltd.

The Warramunga Province hosts the Tennant Creek mineral field, where the majority of the Territory’s copper production has been sourced from ironstone-hosted gold-copper-bismuth deposits. Significant copper-gold resources remain in the Tennant Creek field, and the associated Rover field, 70km to the southwest. Substantial exploration activity for copper-gold is also underway in the informally named ‘East Tennant’ region, in the Barkly Tableland east of Tennant Creek, where prospective geology is at explorable depths.

Under feasibility

JORC resources

  • Goanna – Gecko Mining Company Pty Ltd 2.92 Mt @ 1.84% Cu, 0.17 g/t Au
  • Orlando – Gecko Mining Company Pty Ltd 2.2 Mt @ 1.4% Cu, 1.8 g/t Au
  • Gecko – Gecko Mining Company Pty Ltd 1.48 Mt @ 2.5% Cu
  • Explorer 142 - Castile Resources Ltd 176 kt @ 5.21% Cu, 0.21 g/t Au

Exploration results

Other companies with exploration projects for copper and copper-gold in the Tenannt Creek field include Emmerson Resources, Rio Tinto Exploration, Truscott Mining Ltd and King River Resources Ltd. In the East Tennant region, explorers targeting copper and gold in undercover extensions of the Warramunga Province include Newcrest Mining, Strategic Energy Resources Ltd, Inca Minerals Ltd, Greenvale Mining, Middle Island Resources and Red Metal Ltd.

The greater McArthur Basin, which includes the Palaeo-Mesoproterozoic McArthur and Birrindudu basins and Tomkinson Province, and equivalent successions in the South Nicholson Basin and Lawn Hill Platform have substantial and largely untested potential for sediment-hosted copper mineralisation. The only significant copper production to date has been from breccia pipes at the Redbank deposits in the south eastern McArthur Basin, but exploration activity is currently focussed across large areas, seeking larger scale sediment-hosted copper systems.

JORC resources

Exploration

Since 2019, there has been substantial uptake of exploration tenure for sediment-hosted copper in the Barkly Tableland region, Beetaloo Sub-basin and other parts of the greater McArthur Basin. Encounter Resources Ltd have large tenement holdings in these areas, and in 2021 they finalised an agreement with BHP for a $22 million joint venture and earn-in arrangement on their Elliot copper project. Other companies exploring for sediment-hosted copper include Teck Australia Pty Ltd, Red Metal Ltd, Resolution Minerals Ltd and Greenvale Mining Ltd.

In the Pine Creek Orogen, there are deformed sediment-hosted deposits, with the largest known copper resource at the Browns shale-hosted polymetallic deposit near Batchelor.

Under feasibility

  • Browns Oxide – Northern Territories Resources Pty Ltd 9.4 Mt @ 0.82% Cu, 0.14% Co, 0.14% Ni
  • Browns Sulphide – Northern Territories Resources Pty Ltd 45.1 Mt @ 0.35% Cu, 3.74% Pb, 0.73% Zn, 0.09% Co, 0.07% Ni

JORC Resources

More information

  • McGloin, 2017. The significance of metaexhalites, seafloor alteration and retrograde processes for metamorphosed mineral deposits: examples of distinct alteration styles from the Aileron Province. AGES 2017 Proceedings.
  • Mayes and Bennett, 2017. The Rockface copper discovery at Jervois. AGES 2017 Proceedings.
  • Davidson et al 2017. Controls on copper mineralising processes in the central McArthur Basin, NT: a progress report on the Coppermine Creek Prospect. AGES 2017 Proceedings.
  • McGloin et al 2016. Palaeoproterozoic copper mineralisation in the Aileron Province: new findings on temporal, spatial and genetic features. AGES 2017 Proceedings.
  • Ahmad et al, 2006. Economic geology of the Rum Jungle mineral field. NTGS Report 19.
  • Hussey et al, 2005. Geology and origin of some Cu-Pb-Zn (-Au-Ag) deposits in the Strangways metamorphic complex, Arunta Region, NT. NTGS Report 17.
  • Search GEMIS for further NTGS reports on copper.

Explore NT projects

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