Uranium

The Northern Territory (NT) has a long history of uranium mining and has some of Australia’s most significant and highest grade uranium deposits. It currently contains around 30% of Australia’s low-cost uranium resources.

Production

The first mining of uranium in the NT began in 1953 in the Rum Jungle and South Alligator fields, and a second phase of mining in the Alligator Rivers uranium field near Jabiru commenced in 1980 and is ongoing. In total, over 135,000t of uranium oxide has been produced to June 2015. 

Production from the one currently operating mine (Ranger) in 2014/15 was 2,015 t of uranium oxide.

Geology

The most important style of uranium mineralisation in the NT is unconformity-style uranium mineralisation, particularly in the Alligator Rivers uranium field in the eastern Pine Creek orogen, where uranium occurs associated with structures in basement rocks beneath the unconformity with the overlying McArthur Basin.

These are the largest and highest grade deposits in the Northern Territory, with ore grades in excess of 0.1% uranium oxide, and locally more than 1%.

A second major style of uranium mineralisation in the Northern Territory is sandstone-hosted mineralisation in Palaeozoic sediments in the Amadeus and Ngalia Basins. 

The most significant known sandstone-hosted deposits are the Angela deposit in the Amadeus Basin near Alice Springs and the Bigrlyi deposit in the Ngalia Basin west of Yuendemu, both of which contain around 10,000t of contained uranium oxide. 

Substantial potential also exists for palaeochannel- and calcrete-hosted uranium in Cenozoic sediments in central Australia.

Other provinces with significant uranium potential and known occurrences include the Murphy Province, basal McArthur Basin, Warramunga province, Arunta region and Tanami region.

Last updated: 13 October 2017