The Northern Territory is highly prospective for copper, with a large range of deposits and deposit styles, and around 2 million tonnes of historical copper production. Past production and identified copper resources in the Northern Territory are located within four main geological provinces, the Pine Creek Orogen, McArthur Basin, Warramunga Province and Arunta Region. There are no currently operating copper mines in the Northern Territory, although copper exploration is active and a number of projects are subject to feasibility studies.
In the Pine Creek Orogen, there are deformed sediment-hosted and VMS-style deposits, with the largest known copper resource at the Browns black shale-hosted polymetallic deposit near Rum Jungle. The McArthur Basin has had production from volcanic-hosted breccia pipes at Redbank near the Queensland border, and has high potential for sediment-hosted deposits.
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, particularly from the Warrego, Gecko and Peko mines. Significant copper-gold resources remain in the Tennant Creek field, and the associated Rover field, 70 km to the southwest, with new resources being identified at deposits such as Rover 1 (MetalsX Ltd) and in the Gecko mine corridor (Emmerson Resources Ltd).
The Arunta Region is also a major area of focus for copper exploration. The most significant known deposit in the Arunta Region is at Jervois, 300 km northeast of Alice Springs. Mineralisation at Jervois occurs in a series of strata-bound, subvertical sulfide-rich deposits along a 12 km strike length has been described as a hybrid VMS-SEDEX deposit, with some affinities to Broken Hill-style mineralisation. KGL Resources Ltd have defined a resource containing 330 000t of copper at Jervois, along with significant silver, lead and zinc. There are numerous other copper deposits in the Arunta Region, with a variety of styles including vein-hosted, iron-oxide copper-gold and massive sulfide deposits. The province is under explored and is an important greenfield copper province.
Other provinces with significant but largely untested copper potential include the Amadeus Basin, Musgrave Province, Kalkarindji Province, Lawn Hill Platform and Davenport Province.