Billions of dollars of minerals unlocked in Woomera Prohibited Area

05/10/2012

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Premier Jay Weatherill has welcomed the unlocking of the Woomera Prohibited Area as one of the most significant milestones for the advancement of South Australia's rapidly expanding resources sector.

Following the Federal Government's announcement that the initial 'moratorium phase' has been lifted and a standardised Deed of Access for resource exploration was now in place, Mr Weatherill said mining companies could now move in and begin drilling.

"Mining companies have been waiting for the opportunity to access this area for years and this deed of agreement will finally allow them to move their drills in and begin searching for the minerals we know are there," he said.

"The mining industry now has access to an area about the size of England - an area conservatively estimated to hold more than $35b of mineral wealth.

"But with this Deed of Access agreement, first endorsed in the Hawke Review, now reached, we expect this area to rapidly become one of Australia's most significant resource provinces."

The area within and directly adjacent to the WPA is estimated to contain nearly 80 per cent of the nation's uranium resource and more than 60 per cent of Australia's known copper resource as well as significant deposits of iron ore, gold and other minerals.

Minister for Mineral Resources Development, Tom Koutsantonis said the State Government is strategically investing $2m for PACE mapping of the area to help fast track exploration through world-class pre-competitive data.

"This is about fast tracking the discovery of South Australia's hidden mineral resources in one of the most prospective regions of the state," he said.

"The WPA already hosts more than 150 active exploration licenses, more than 80 applications for licences and also features operating mines including at Challenger, Prominent Hill, Peculiar Knob and Cairn Hill.

"But exploration is only the start - our great hope is that exploration will lead to world-class discoveries within the WPA that will join the pipeline of major projects already under development in this state.

"We all know how prospective Olympic Dam is, well if that is the elephant then we will find the herd in the WPA."