Northern Territory miners stand to benefit from new scientific data showing an area east of Tennant Creek, a major resource hub, is host to mineral deposits potentially worth up to $12.4bn.

The data was gathered by a $225m federal government-funded mining exploration program, Exploring for the Future, and includes new geological data and mineral potential assessments.

“Detailed data collected in the East Tennant area suggests it could host a new mineral deposit with characteristics similar to those of the Ernest Henry near Mount Isa – one of the largest copper-gold mines in Australia,” federal resources, water and northern Australia minister Keith Pitt said.

“Exploring for the Future has helped narrow down the search for mineral explorers, giving them pre-competitive data they need to make an investment decision.”

The exploration program is led by Geoscience Australia and uses cutting-edge techniques to collect new data and information about potential mineral, energy and groundwater resource systems.

The area surrounding Tennant Creek, where many explorers are currently active, has been a focus for Geoscience Australia for some time. In March last year, Geoscience Australia flew the “world’s largest airborne electromagnetic survey” over the area between Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory and Mt Isa in Queensland.

News of the Exploring for the Future data is likely to be welcomed by Tennant Creek miners listed on the ASX.


ASX copper-gold explorers on the hunt at Tennant Creek

Emmerson Resources (ASX: ERM) was up 5 per cent to 10c in Wednesday trade, and is developing a high-grade copper-gold-cobalt project at Tennant Creek with two partners, Territory Resources and NT Bullion and Elmore Proprietary Limited.

The partners are funding the development of Emmerson’s Tennant Creek project, including a new 300,000-tonne-per-annum mill and tailings treatment plant and $10m for exploration by 2024.

Emmerson is to receive a low-risk gold royalty or profit share from new mines at Tennant Creek, including 12 per cent of gross revenue from its Edna Beryl gold mine, and 25 per cent of the profit from copper and cobalt from its Mauretania and Jasper Hills tenements.

Emmerson’s Mauretania project at Tennant Creek has returned hits like 20m at 38.5 grams per tonne gold, while Edna Beryl has delivered 8m at 157g/t gold.

The company remains the exploration manager and 100 per cent owner of its Tennant Creek projects, including the Edna Beryl mine opened in 2017. Emmerson is also looking to the Macquarie Arc in NSW for new gold finds.

Castile Resources (ASX:CST) is carrying out a mine pre-feasibility study at its Rover 1 copper-gold project 80km south of Tennant Creek and has completed 85,000m of drilling at the site.

High-grade gold intercepts at the deposit include 7m at 125.9g/t gold from 542m and 21m at 6.8 per cent copper from 469m.

Shares in Castile advanced 4 per cent to 26c in Wednesday trade.

CST, ERM, OMH, TNG share price charts


Tennant Creek iron, manganese and vanadium

Another Tennant Creek miner is TNG Limited (ASX: TNG), which has taken an important step in developing its Mount Peake vanadium-titanium-iron project in the Northern Territory.

TNG in late July signed an off-take agreement for 500,000 tonnes per annum of iron ore from the project with Goa-headquartered Indian mining company Vimson Group, which will market the ore.

The deal provides important financing for the Mount Peake project, and TNG is to build a Darwin-based processing facility to produce a 64 per cent iron ore fines product.

Managing director and chief executive Paul Burton said the iron ore sales agreement was the third such off-take deal for its Mount Peake mine, following one with South Korean company Woojin for vanadium products, and Swiss company DKSH for titanium dioxide pigment.

OM Holdings (ASX:OMH) operates the Bootu Creek manganese mine 110km north of Tennant Creek that produced 201,590 tonnes at an average grade of 28.4 per cent in the June quarter.

The company’s manganese ultra-fines plant at Bootu Creek started up in March and produced 2,458 tonnes of product at 32.5 per cent in the June quarter. Manganese prices have been trading sideways in recent months.