The Northern Territory has a long history of uranium mining and has some of Australia’s most significant and highest grade uranium deposits.
144,174 tonnes uranium oxide
1,751 tonnes uranium oxide
Remaining JORC resources
>200,000 tonnes uranium oxide
Value of production in 2018/19
Production ranking in Australia
It currently contains around 30% of Australia’s low-cost uranium resources. Uranium mining in the Northern Territory (NT) commenced in 1953 in the Rum Jungle and South Alligator fields, and a second phase of mining in the Alligator Rivers uranium field near Jabiru commenced in 1980 and is ongoing.
Ranger is a large unconformity-style uranium deposit hosted in the lower Cahill Formation in the Pine Creek Orogen. Mining commenced in 1980, with total production since that time of 126,000 tonne U3O8 from the Ranger 1 and Ranger 3 open pits. Open cut mining ceased at Ranger in 2012, with all production now from stockpiles, as the operation heads towards closure in 2021 and rehabilitation by 2026.
At the end of 2019, Ore Reserves at Ranger (entirely within stockpiles from Ranger 3 pit) were 2.42 Mt at 0.071% U3O8 for 1,711 tonne U3O8, and total Mineral Resources (in stockpiles and in the undeveloped Ranger 3 Deeps deposit, including Ore Reserves) are 49.16 Mt at 0.114% U3O8.
Most uranium production in the NT has been from the Alligator Rivers Uranium Field, an unconformity-related uranium field in which deposits locally contain more than 100,000 tonne contained U3O8, with grades generally in the range 0.2-2% U3O8. These deposits, which include Ranger, Jabiluka, Koongarra and Nabarlek, are typically hosted within the Palaeoproterozoic basement of the Cahill Formation (Pine Creek Orogen), close to the unconformity with the basal MacArthur Basin.
Current exploration is focussed in western Arnhem Land, where a maiden resource was announced at the Angularli deposit in 2018. Elsewhere in the Pine Creek Orogen, smaller but locally high-grade vein-style and other basement-hosted uranium deposits occur in the South Alligator, Rum Jungle and Hayes Creek uranium fields.
Sandstone-type deposits occur in Palaeozoic sediments in the Ngalia and Amadeus basins in central Australia. The largest of these deposits are the Angela deposit in the Amadeus Basin and the Bigrlyi deposit in the Ngalia Basin. Cenozoic palaeochannel-hosted uranium has also been identified in the Ngalia Basin area, and has the potential to become an important exploration target in Central Australia.
There are also significant uranium occurrences in the basal southern McArthur Basin and underlying basement of the Murphy Province, close to the Westmoreland uranium deposit which occurs in adjacent regions of Queensland.
The Aileron Province, Warramunga Province and Tanami Region contain known uranium prospects and locally uranium-enriched granites. These provinces and overlying basins and palaeochannels represent greenfields uranium exploration targets.
These provinces and overlying basins and palaeochannels represent greenfields uranium exploration targets.