Energy and minerals

The Northern Territory (NT) economy is dominated by the mining and energy resources sector, with the mining industry alone valued at AU$3.63 billion. The NT is rich in energy commodities and has a long history as a supplier of gas and uranium to world markets.

Beneath the ground right across the NT’s 1.35 million square kilometres are some of the world’s largest and richest mineral deposits, with large areas yet to be explored.

The NT has large onshore and offshore gas resources, with onshore basins alone believed to contain more than 200 trillion cubic feet of prospective gas resources.

The NT is rich with minerals and resources, including:

  • bauxite
  • uranium
  • zinc
  • lead
  • copper
  • phosphate
  • manganese
  • gold
  • silver
  • rare earths.

There are nine major mines operating in the NT. The five biggest are:

  • Gove (bauxite)
  • Callie (gold)
  • Groote Eylandt (manganese)
  • McArthur River Mine (zinc-lead)
  • Ranger (uranium).

More than 30 potential mining projects are being investigated for commodities including garnets, copper, rare earths, vanadium, salt, lithium and phosphate.

Major projects in this sector are the US$37 billion INPEX Ichthys LNG project (expected to produce 8.9 million tonnes of LNG per year and 100 000 barrels of condensate a day) and the ConocoPhillips Darwin LNG plant. Capital expenditure for the two projects is in excess of AU$40 billion.

In April 2018, the NT Government lifted its moratorium on hydraulic fracturing of unconventional gas reservoirs. This allows for the potential future development of the NT’s large onshore shale gas resources, subject to the implementation of recommendations from the Scientific Inquiry into Hydraulic Fracturing in the NT.

A 622km, AU$800 million Northern Gas Pipeline has been constructed between Tennant Creek and Mt Isa in Queensland, connecting the NT to the national gas grid.

Gas pipelines

Energy and minerals facts and stats:

  • at 13% (AU$3.63 billion), the energy and minerals sector is the second-largest contributor to the NT’s GSP
  • the NT has close to 30 trillion cubic feet of offshore gas reserves
  • nine major mines operate in the NT
  • Groote Eylandt has the world’s largest manganese mine, supplying 15% of world market demand
  • McArthur River Mine has one of the largest deposits of zinc-lead in the world
  • 30% of Australia’s total known uranium reserves are in the NT
  • 4800: number of jobs in the NT energy and minerals sector
  • about AU$47 out of every AU$100 of export earnings are earned through natural gas
  • the Southern Hemisphere’s first helium production plant and one of only 15 in the world opened in Darwin in 2010
  • most minerals produced in the NT are exported overseas
  • three quarters of all NT minerals are exported to China
  • the other main export markets are Korea, Japan and India.

Related investment opportunities

Related information