This section provides analysis for the Northern Territory's (NT’s) mining and manufacturing industries. It explores activity for a range of commodities, minerals, manufactured products and exports. Mining and manufacturing activities that take place in the NT include mining of metal ores, petroleum production, quarrying and mining of non-metallic minerals, as well as the manufacturing of a wide range of products for both domestic and overseas consumption.
Economic contribution | Contribution to employment | Mineral production | Petroleum production | Manufacturing | Explanatory notes
This section provides analysis for the NT’s mining and manufacturing industries. It explores activity for a range of commodities, minerals, manufactured products and exports. Mining and manufacturing activities that take place in the NT include mining of metal ores, petroleum production, quarrying and mining of non-metallic minerals, as well as the manufacturing of a wide range of products for both domestic and overseas consumption.
Mining and manufacturing contribute to the NT economy through international trade, private investment and employment. The mining and manufacturing industries also have a significant impact on the NT’s construction industry as mining and manufacturing projects generally require significant levels of construction activity.
- The NT’s mining and manufacturing industries rose 37.1% in 2018-19 to $5.7 billion. Driven by a 4.1% increase in the manufacturing industry to $946 million and a 46.4% increase in the mining sector to a record $4.7 billion.
- Mining and manufacturing accounted for 22.7% of NT economic output in 2018‑19 (Chart 1).
Contribution to employment
- In 2018-19, mining and manufacturing employment fell 25.1% to 6,910 persons. Driven by a 35% decrease in mining industry employment and a 13.2% decrease in the manufacturing industry (Chart 2).
- In the year to August 2019 employment fell 23.3% to 6,644 persons. Driven by a 38.5% decrease in mining sector employment and a 5.2% decrease in employment in the manufacturing industry.
- Employment figures may be understated as both industries employ large numbers of fly‑in fly‑out workers from interstate, who are not included in the NT’s official employment figures.
- The NT’s mineral producers sold $4.5 billion worth of commodities in 2017-18, a 23.8% increase from 2016-17 (Table 1) (Chart 2).
- The NT also produces a range of non-metallic minerals such as diamonds, rock, sand, gravel and quicklime that contributed 1.1% to the total value of mineral commodities sold in 2017-18.
- The NT’s metallic mineral commodities are predominantly exported overseas (with the exception of gold dore production, much of which is transported to the Perth mint for processing).
Map 1: Current and pending mineral and onshore petroleum production in the NT1
- Petroleum production in the NT includes the extraction of crude oil, condensate and natural gas, as well as the production of LNG, which makes up a large proportion of the NT’s overall production.
- Onshore petroleum production in the NT occurs mainly in the Amadeus Basin around the central Australia region and at the Darwin LNG plant, located at Wickham Point. The NT’s offshore petroleum production comprises operations in NT and jointly administered waters, such as the Joint Petroleum Development Area (JPDA) (Map 2).
- The NT produces oil both onshore, in Central Australia, and offshore, in the Timor sea. Offshore oil production attributed to the NT in 2016-17 was at the Montara and Laminaria‑Corrallina oilfields.
- Oil produced offshore is exported directly from the fields for overseas trade. The value of the NT’s offshore petroleum oil exports fell 17.9% to $175.4 million in 2017-18.
- Following the suspension of production at the Surprise oilfield in 2015, the NT’s onshore oil production is solely from the Mereenie oilfield, located west of Alice Springs. The majority of the oil produced there is transported to South Australia for processing to be sold to domestic customers as well as for export overseas.
- In 2018, total onshore oil production fell 10.2% compared to the previous year (Chart 3).
- The NT’s onshore conventional gas is produced from the Amadeus Basin, Dingo and Mereenie gas fields, located in the Central Australia region.
- Onshore gas production rose 23.5% in 2018, the fifth consecutive annual increase reflecting increased demand.
- The Northern Gas Pipeline was completed in late 2018, providing overland access to the eastern Australia gas market, interstate gas exports through the pipeline commenced in January 2019.
- LNG production is the largest manufacturing activity in the NT and total goods exported, however, is included in the mining industry classification by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). In 2018, LNG production at the ConocoPhillips LNG plant increased by 4.7%. Production at the INPEX LNG plant is currently not available.
Map 2: Petroleum activity1
- The NT produces a wide range of manufactured goods, the most prominent of which is helium, as well as smaller scale manufacturing such as steel fabrication, wood, paper and food.
- Manufactured goods production fell 3.1% to contribute $965 million to GSP in 2017-18 (Chart 4).
- Manufacturing employed an average of 3,642 persons in the NT in 2018-19, below the 10-year average of 4,041 persons.
- Manufacturing accounted for 2.8% of the NT’s employment in 2018-19.
- The NT’s mining and manufacturing industries’ data are reported together for the purposes of this publication as ABS includes the gross value added of manufactured LNG in the mining industry classification. Mining and manufacturing activities in the NT include mining of metal ores, petroleum production, quarrying and mining of non-metallic minerals, as well as manufacturing of a wide range of products for both domestic and overseas consumption such as concrete, wood chips and food products. The NT’s mining industry data also includes offshore petroleum production in NT waters.
- Analysis of the components of this industry is informed by a number of different data sources, including the ABS, information published in company reports and data provided by the Department of Primary Industry and Resources.
- The NT has a number of offshore gas reserves in NT waters and in the jointly administered JPDA (Map 3). Current offshore NT gas production is located at the Bayu‑Undan gas field in the JPDA and Blacktip gas field near the NT and Western Australia border. Gas produced at the Blacktip gas field is transported by pipeline to an onshore processing plant in Yelcherr, near Wadeye, for domestic consumption, supplying the Darwin‑Katherine power network. Gas from Bayu‑Undan in the JPDA is transported by pipeline to the ConocoPhillips LNG plant for processing. Gas from the Ichthys gas field is transported by pipeline to the INPEX LNG plant for processing. Royalties from resources production in the JPDA is split between the Commonwealth and East Timor, however, the ABS allocates the Australian portion of production to the NT for reporting purposes.