The Northern Territory is a major zinc producer, with the McArthur Basin forming part of the Carpentaria Zinc Belt, the world’s most productive zinc province that extends to Mount Isa in Queensland.
> 4.42 Mt Zn, 1.19 Mt Pb, 31.02 Moz Ag
279 300 t Zn, 54 900 t Pb, 1.614 Moz Ag
Remaining JORC resources
162Mt @ 9.8 % Zn, 4.4 Pb, 44 g/t Ag
Value of production in 2019/20
Production ranking in Australia
The one operating mine is McArthur River, the world’s fourth largest zinc mine, which is also a major producer of lead and silver. The McArthur Basin also contains the 2013 Teena zinc discovery, which is Australia’s largest zinc discovery this century.
The Pine Creek Orogen, Aileron Province and Bonaparte Basin also have known resources and high potential for polymetallic zinc, lead and silver deposits. The Lawn Hill Platform, which hosts the Century zinc mine in Queensland, also extends into the Northern Territory, and new geoscience data suggests substantial undercover potential in the NT.
Remaining JORC Resources: 162 Mt at 9.8% Zn, 4.4% Pb and 45 g/t Ag
The McArthur River mine has been in operation since 1995, and has a remaining mine life of 30 years. The ‘Sedex’-style deposit occurs as fine-grained thinly bedded sulfide ore hosted in the 1640 million year old Barney Creek Formation of the McArthur Basin.
The open cut mining operation produces zinc and zinc-lead concentrate, which is exported from the Port of Bing Bong on the Gulf of Carpentaria.
Other companies exploring for zinc in the McArthur Basin include, GPM Metals Inc and Rio Tinto Exploration who are exploring in the Walker Fault Zone in Arnhem Land. The Birrindudu Basin, Tomkinson Province, Lawn Hill Platform and South Nicholson Basin all have high potential for sediment-hosted zinc mineralisation, including in the newly identified, largely undercover Brunette Downs Rift Zone (Southby et al 2021).
The most significant known zinc-lead mineral system in the Warramunga Province is the Explorer 108-Curiosity mineral system, located in the undercover Rover mineral field, 95 km west-southwest of Tennant Creek.
The onshore Palaeozoic Bonaparte Basin contains resources of Mississippi Valley-type zinc lead mineralisation, including the Sorby Hills deposit immediately across the border in Western Australia. A number of known deposits occur within the Northern Territory, with the largest of these being the Sandy Hill deposit.
Blaikie and Kunzmann 2019. From source to trap. Geophysical insights into base metals mineralisation in the southern McArthur Basin. AGES 2019 Proceedings.
Kunzmann and Blaikie 2019. The ca 1640 Ma Barney Creek Formation in the McArthur Basin: Targeting diagenetic mineralisation and depocentre shift. AGES 2019 Proceedings.
Spinks et al 2019. Ultra-high resolution trace element mapping provides new clues on the origin of the McArthur River (HYC) sediment-hosted Zn-Pb-Ag deposit. AGES 2019 Proceedings.
Sheldon et al 2019. An integrated study of the McArthur River mineral system: From geochemistry, geophysics and sequence stratigraphy to basin-scale models of fluid flow. AGES 2019 Proceedings.
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.
Hussey et al, 2005. Geology and origin of some Cu-Pb-Zn (-Au-Ag) deposits in the Strangways metamorphic complex, Arunta Region, Northern Territory. NTGS Report 17.
Search for further NTGS reports on zinc, lead and silver.