COVID-19 fears shut down central Australian exploration

THE CENTRAL Land Council has asked for explorers to suspend all non-essential visits to remote communities and aboriginal lands in the Top End.
COVID-19 fears shut down central Australian exploration COVID-19 fears shut down central Australian exploration COVID-19 fears shut down central Australian exploration COVID-19 fears shut down central Australian exploration COVID-19 fears shut down central Australian exploration

The CLC wants all field work to stop until the infection has passed.

Haydn Black

Reporter

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The request does not expect to Newmont's vast Tanami operations, or any other working mine sites in the Northern Territory, MNN has confirmed.

A spokesperson for the CLC told MNN as Newmont workers were flown into and out of Perth, and did not cross Aboriginal lands, the gold miner could continue unaffected.
 
Other isolated FIFO mines are expected to also continue operation, but the request is already impacting explorers, particularly in the Tanami, Tennant Creek and Alice Springs regions.
 
Newly-listed Castile Resources is in a trading halt, pending an announcement regarding its plans to resume exploration at the Rover 1 copper-gold discovery near Tennant Creek, where it recently reactivated its exploration camp, while Prodigy Gold has confirmed it will shut down work in the Tanami.
 
Other affected parties are expected to include IGO, Nova Minerals, Emmerson Resources and Blina Minerals.
 
Exploration is classed as non-essential travel, and the CLC is putting in place plans need to be put in place to mitigate coronavirus transmission to traditional owners and ensure remote health services can continue to function.
 
CLC CEO Martin-Jard said essentially anyone who was not delivering health, supplies or other essential services should cancel their trips.
 
The CLC was also cancelling large meetings across its region, including its April council meeting in Tennant Creek.
 
The CLC's area covers almost 777,000sq.km across the southern half of the NT.
 
"In spite of the remoteness of our exploration programs all exploration companies with exploration licences in Central Australia have been requested to delay non-essential travel," Prodigy managing director Matt Briggs said.
 
He said Prodigy was keen to preserve its positive relationship with traditional owners, and would work with the CLC to mitigate transmission risk, and to recommence field activities as soon as possible.
 
Exploration in the NT is often restricted by the wet season, which runs from November to April.
 
The NT is understood to have recorded a single case of the COVID-19 virus, with a 52-year-old tourist testing positive earlier this month.