INTEREST has grown in a previously ‘off limits’ area of the Australian outback with potential gold, uranium and copper assets.
A total of 59 exploration licenses have been granted to explore the Woomera area in South Australia since restrictions on the land were relaxed.
Located in the far north of South Australia, the Woomera Prohibited Area has been used as a rocket testing range and was declared a prohibited area under Australian Federal Legislation.
An amendment to the Federal Bill in July 2014 has now opened up parts of the land to mining exploration.
South Australian Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis acknowledged the work of former South Australian Senator Don Farrell who had pushed for access to the area that may unlock an estimated $35 billion in potential gold, uranium and copper assets.
“The level of interest shown by explorers since the legislation passed is extremely promising with 59 exploration licences submitted since last August, covering about 18,460 square kilometres,’’ he said.
“As a result of the downturn in global commodity prices the industry is facing significant challenges. But we also know the resources industry is a cyclical one.
“For that reason it is crucial that we provide explorers with a regulatory framework that gives them the confidence to go out to find the next major discoveries, so when the inevitable upswing occurs they are ready to invest and create jobs for South Australians.”
Stretching more than 127,000 square kilometres, roughly the size of England, Woomera potentially contains some of the world’s richest mineral and petroleum resources.
Geoscience Australia estimates 62 per cent of Australia’s known copper resources and 78 per cent of the nation’s known uranium resources are located in the area and its immediate surrounds.
“While defence remains the primary user of the area for testing and evaluation, the legislation sets out user access rights, an access permit scheme, compensation and cost recovery arrangements, enforcement provisions and an appeals process,” Koutsantonis said.
Exploration companies can use a recently released an open data map of South Australia to explore the area.