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Critical Minerals

The Northern Territory has a number of substantial critical minerals projects with potential near-term production.

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The Northern Territory (NT) has a number of substantial critical minerals projects, with potential near-term production of lithium, rare earths, vanadium, titanium, tungsten and molybdenum, and defined resources of cobalt, nickel and magnesium.

The largest known cobalt resource in the NT is at the Browns project near Batchelor in the Pine Creek Orogen, where cobalt occurs with copper, nickel and lead. Sediment-hosted cobalt-nickel-copper mineralisation occurs in the McArthur Basin, and cobalt also occurs within polymetallic copper-bearing mineralisation in the Warramunga and Aileron Provinces. Opportunities may exist to extract cobalt from tailings associated with historic mines in the Tennant Creek mineral field.

Cobalt resources in the NT

  • Browns – Northern Territories Resources Pty Ltd – Oxide: 9.4 Mt @ 0.14% Co, 0.82% Cu, 0.14% Ni; Sulfide: 45.1 Mt @ 3.74% Pb, 0.73% Zn, 0.35% Cu, 0.09% Co, 0.07% Ni
  • Stanton – Resolution Minerals Ltd 0.94 Mt @ 0.13% Co, 0.12% Cu, 0.061% Ni
  • Basil – Mithril Resources Ltd 26.5 Mt @ 0.57% Cu, 0.05% Co
  • Rover 1 – Castile Resources Ltd 4.75 Mt @ 1.63% Cu, 1.73 g/t Au, 0.08% Co, 0.10% Bi

Cobalt recent exploration results in the NT

The NT is an emerging lithium producer, with pegmatite-hosted lithium resources defined at Core Lithium’s Finniss project, in the Bynoe pegmatite field close to Darwin. Core Lithium have completed all environmental and mining approvals in place to commence mining operations with construction underway. Exploration is also ongoing to increase the resource base.

Greenfields exploration potential for lithium also occurs in the Aileron Province in central Australia associated historic tin and tantalum mining fields.

Other companies with lithium exploration projects include Lithium Plus Pty Ltd.

Lithium resources in the NT

In construction

Lithium exploration in the NT

A number of high-grade magnesite (magnesium carbonate) deposits occur near Batchelor in the Pine Creek Orogen, close to infrastructure and Darwin Port. They occur as stratabound bodies within the Celia and Coomalie Dolostones and include the Winchester and Huandot deposits. These have potential for direct shipping of magnesite rock, or export of dead burned magnesia or caustic calcined magnesia.

Magnesium resources in the NT

  • Winchester – Korab Resources Ltd 16.6 Mt @ 43.2% MgO
  • Huandot – Thessaly Resources Pty Ltd 9.1 Mt at 44.3% MgO

The Territory’s most significant rare earths deposit is at Nolans Bore in the Aileron Province, 135km northwest of Alice Springs, owned by Arafura Resources Ltd, which is rich in magnet-feed rare earths, particularly NdPr. The most abundant rare earth-bearing minerals at Nolans Bore are fluorapatite, allanite and monazite. The company has most approvals in place and is planning on-site processing to produce 4,440 tonnes per annum of neodymium and praseodymium (NdPr) oxide and 600 tpa of a mixed middle-heavy rare earth (SEG/HRE) oxide.

The Aileron and Irindina provinces have high exploration potential for rare earths. Potential also exists for alluvial deposits of rare earths containing monazite and xenotime, including at the Charley Creek project, 120km west of Alice Springs, which has a large alluvial resource.

The Tanami Region also has high potential for rare earths given the existence of vein-hosted xenotime resources at Northern Minerals’ Browns Range project in adjacent regions of WA.

Rare earths resources in the NT

Rare earths recent exploration results in the NT

The Territory is prospective but under-explored for nickel. The only defined resources are 59,550 tonne of nickel included in the polymetallic Browns resource in the Pine Creek Orogen, and a small resource at Northern Cobalt’s Stanton Co-Cu-Ni prospect (see Cobalt).

There is considerable potential for nickel sulfide deposits in the Aileron and Irindina provinces where a number of prospects occur, and numerous generations of mafic and ultramafic intrusions are considered fertile for nickel mineralisation and remain effectively unexplored. Feeders to the widespread flood basalts of the Kalkarindji Province are also a prospective exploration target.

Companies with nickel exploration projects include IGO Ltd and Kidman Resources Ltd.

The NT has several tungsten fields and has historically produced 6043 tonne of tungsten concentrate. The largest known resource is at Molyhil, 250km northeast of Alice Springs. Molyhil is hosted in a scheelite-molybdenite-magnetite skarn within the Aileron Province.

Thor Mining PLC have completed a Definitive Feasibility Study at Molyhil and have also announced maiden resources for the Samarkand and White Violet deposits in the nearby Bonya Hills.

Further tungsten occurrences occur in the Hatches Creek and Wauchope tungsten fields in the Davenport Province that produced most historic production of wolframite and scheelite.

Tungsten resources in the NT

Tungsten recent exploration results in the NT

The NT has large vanadium resources associated with mafic-hosted vanadium-rich magnetite in the Aileron Province in Central Australia. TNG Ltd’s Mount Peake deposit near Barrow Creek is an advanced project with most approvals in place.

TNG have announced plans to produce high quality V2O5, TiO2 and Fe2O3 from a processing plant in Darwin. A similar style of mineralisation occurs at the Jervois vanadium prospect, northeast of Alice Springs.

A second style of vanadium mineralisation is associated with sandstone-hosted uranium deposits, also in Central Australia, including the Bigrlyi deposit in the Ngalia Basin.

Vanadium resources in the NT

  • Mount Peake – TNG Ltd 160 Mt @ 0.28% V2O5, 5.3% TiO2 and 23.0% Fe
  • Bigrlyi – Energy Metals Ltd 7.5 Mt @ 0.12% V2O5, 0.13% U3O8

Vanadium recent exploration results in the NT

More information

Search GEMIS for other NTGS reports on critical minerals.

  • Rawlings (2019). Update on the Finniss lithium project. AGES 2019 Proceedings.
  • Rawlings (2017). Lithium-rich pegmatites of the Bynoe field. AGES 2017 Proceedings.
  • Frater (2005). Tin-tantalum pegmatite mineralisation of the Northern Territory. NTGS Report 16.
  • Huston et al (2017). The Nolans rare earth element-phosphorus-uranium mineral system: formation and modification over 1800 million years. AGES 2017 Proceedings.
  • Hussey (2003). Rare earth element mineralisation in the eastern Arunta Region. NTGS Record 2003-004.
  • McGloin et al (2019). Using tourmaline to identify base metal and tungsten mineralising processes in the Jervois mineral field and Bonya Hills, Aileron Province. NTGS Record 2019-001.
  • Beyer et al (2016). Summary of results. NTGS laser ablation ICP-MS in situ zircon and baddeleyite geochronology project: Mount Peake Gabbro, Arunta Region. NTGS Record 2016-002.
  • Schmid et al 2012. JSU Ngalia Basin Uranium Mineral System Project, NTGS Record 2012-003.

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