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 declined 10.6% in 2020-21 to $7.4 billion, which reflects a 12.1% decrease in the mining industry to $6.4 billion, and a small increase of 0.4% in the manufacturing sector to $993 million.
- Mining and manufacturing accounted for 24.1% of NT economic output in 2020‑21 (Chart 1).
Contribution to employment
- In 2020-21, mining and manufacturing employment grew by 6.4% to 6,413 persons. This reflects a 37.8% increase in mining industry employment, partly offset by an 11.8% decrease 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 $4.2 billion worth of commodities in 2020-21, a 4.4% decrease from 2019-20 (Table 1) (Chart 2).
- The NT also produces a range of non-metallic minerals such as rock, sand, gravel and quicklime that contributed 1% to the total value of mineral commodities sold in 2020-21.
- 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. The NT’s offshore petroleum production comprises several operations in Commonwealth and Timor Leste waters (Map 2).
- The NT produces oil both onshore, in Central Australia, and offshore, in the Timor Sea. Offshore oil production attributed to the NT is mainly from the Montara oilfield, following the cessation of production at the Laminaria‑Corrallina oilfield since July 2019.
- Oil produced offshore is exported directly from the fields for overseas trade. The value of the NT’s offshore petroleum oil exports rose from $5.1 million to $47.7 million in 2020-21 (current prices). Caution is advised when interpreting this result as a large proportion of trade data has been confidentialised by the ABS.
- 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 2020-21, total onshore oil production dropped 11.2% compared to the previous year (Chart 3).
- The NT’s onshore conventional gas is produced from the Amadeus Basin, Dingo, Palm Valley and Mereenie gas fields, located in the Central Australia region.
- 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.
- In 2020-21 onshore gas production declined by 10.3% compared to the previous year.
- Current offshore NT gas production is located at the Blacktip gas field near the NT and Western Australia border, the Ichthys gas field, 220 km off the coast of Western Australia, and the Bayu‑Undan gas field in Timor Leste offshore waters.
- 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 the Ichthys gas field is transported by pipeline to the INPEX LNG plant for processing.
- Gas from Bayu‑Undan is transported by pipeline to Santos’ Darwin LNG plant for processing. Royalties from resources production in the Bayu-Undan gas field are paid to Timor Leste in its entirety .
- The Bayu-Undan gas field is expected to be depleted by 2023. The Barossa gas field, located about 300 kilometres north of Darwin, has been confirmed as the source of gas to replace Bayu-Undan, with Santos announcing its final investment decision on 30 March 2021. Gas is expected to start flowing from Barossa in early 2025, extending the life of the Darwin LNG plant to about 2045. Given the timing of gas from Bayu-Undan running out and Barossa coming online, the Darwin LNG plant is expected to temporarily cease production in 2023-24, resulting in decreased LNG production.
- 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).
Map 2: Petroleum activity1
- Significant manufacturing industries in the Territory include ready-mixed concrete, fabricated metal products, helium, and transport equipment and repair.
- Manufactured goods production accounted for 4.2% ($993 million) of GSP in 2020-21 (Chart 4).
- Manufacturing employed an average of 3,365 persons in the NT in 2020-21, below the 10-year average of 3,801 persons.
- Manufacturing accounted for 2.6% of the NT’s employment in 2020-21.
- 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.