In recent months, mineral exploration in the Northern Territory (NT) has more than rebounded from its long-term downturn.
For many years the region’s strong pipeline of mining projects were held back by low commodity prices, but with the upturn, many are now progressing strongly through the environmental approvals process.
Expenditure figures are also pointing to a powerful recovery.
“This looks like the busiest period for exploration since the last boom ended in 2012”, says Dr Ian Scrimgeour, Executive Director of the Northern Territory Geological Survey, ahead of the Mining the Territory Conference – 5-6 September, Darwin.
“March quarter’s figures were up 90 percent on the previous year; and I expect we will see continuing growth through 2018″.
“The indications are all positive – drill rigs are getting booked up, laboratories are busy, and a lot of new exploration ground is being pegged”.
“We are seeing a really strong recovery in minerals such as gold, zinc and in battery minerals such as lithium and cobalt.”
Lithium was discovered in the NT’s Bynoe region in 2016 and Dr. Scrimgeour anticipates the global rise in demand for batteries in electric vehicle manufacturing and renewable energy storage will drive significantly more lithium – and cobalt – exploration in the years ahead. “The NT has the right mix of commodities for the current needs of the world”, he says.
Dr. Scrimgeour has also observed a particular increase in greenfield exploration. “Lots of companies are coming in and picking up new ground, exploring for commodities like copper, nickel and gold”.
“We’ve also noticed an increase in the number of well-funded, mid-tier gold producers that are getting involved in the NT, particularly in Tanami”.
Amid this unprecedented growth, the NT government has significantly increased the value of grants for co-funded exploration drilling and geophysics programs; and is rolling out a new set of initiatives to further support exploration activity in the region.
Dr. Ian Scrimgeour will share details of these initiatives and talk in further depth about recent industry developments at Mining the Territory – to be held 5-6 September in Darwin as part of NT Resources Week.