Northern Territory Government Newsroom

National Drilling Initiative Reveals Golden Opportunity for Northern Australia

The first data from an innovative drilling project has confirmed the mineral potential of a previously underexplored region of northern Australia.

Minister for Resources and Northern Australia Keith Pitt has welcomed the results of the National Drilling Initiative’s (NDI) first campaign, led by the MinEx CRC with support from Geoscience Australia and the Northern Territory Geological Survey.

Preliminary analysis of data and samples from 10 stratigraphic drill holes from the East Tennant region of the Barkly Tableland shows the area is highly prospective for minerals, particularly copper and gold.

Minister Pitt said the results were expected to be well-received by industry.

“The biggest technical challenge for the Australian mineral resources sector is how to effectively and efficiently explore for minerals concealed deep undercover,” he said.

“This area east of Tennant Creek has seen little mineral exploration because of the expense and risk of searching beneath the overlying sediments.

“While further analysis will be conducted in collaboration with MinEx CRC researchers, this drilling data confirms our view that the East Tennant region has the right geology to host a range of mineral systems. The drilling uncovered copper mineralisation that could indicate that rich deposits occur in the region. 

“The East Tennant region was identified off the back of the pre-competitive data collected through the Exploring for the Future Program – demonstrating the value of this $225 million Australian Government initiative. The new knowledge delivered by the project will help industry more effectively explore this region, potentially leading to a new wave of discoveries.”

Northern Territory Minister for Mining and Industry, Nicole Manison, said the knowledge gained from the NDI provides an exciting opportunity for future mineral explorers in the Territory.

“Mining is a huge job creator in the Northern Territory, employing over 4400 people directly and with a number of projects in the pipeline we can only expect this number to boom,” Minister Manison said.

“Our resources industry is one of the biggest contributors to the Territory economy and successful pre-competitive geoscience programs like the NDI help to grow the industry in regional and remote areas – so all Territorians can benefit."

The $220 million MinEx CRC is a world-first collaboration between government, industry and research organisations.

MinEx CRC Chief Executive Officer Andrew Bailey said this first campaign of the NDI sampled rocks from vast undercover and unexplored regions of Australia to provide clues about new mineral deposits and bring forward the next generation of mineral exploration technology.

“In addition to utilising conventional drilling methods, the NDI is deploying innovative mineral exploration technologies currently being developed by the MinEx CRC and sponsoring organisations. These technologies will reduce the program’s environmental footprint, improve safety and deliver more extensive information at a lower cost,” Mr Bailey said.

“The NDI will also provide a testing platform to refine and optimise these technologies, bringing them closer to market.”

The data can be accessed through the Exploring for the Future Data Discovery Portal ( and the MinEx CRC National Drilling Initiative Portal ( 

For more information on the drilling activities, see the MinEx CRC website.


Minister Pitt - Matt Dunstan 0411 535 072, Marnie Hobson 0407 090 230

Minister Manison – Alex Cannon 08 8936 5536