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Southern Lease Mining Project

GEMCO is proposing to extend the life of its manganese mine on Groote Eylandt by developing the Southern Lease Mining Project (the project).

GEMCO is proposing to develop the project in the north-western part of the Southern Lease exploration licence.  The project has been located to avoid the most sensitive environmental and cultural values of the Southern Lease.

GEMCO’s existing mining operations include the areas known as the Western and Eastern Leases.  The project will involve the development of an additional mining area that will be integrated with the existing mining operations and will extend the mine life by around three years.

GEMCO plans to mine up to 15 million tonnes of manganese ore from the project area, using the same methods as the existing operations.

For more information about the project, download this fact sheet.

Protecting culture and the environment

Protecting culture and the environment

GEMCO has undertaken extensive studies and planning since 2016 to ensure the project is developed in a socially, culturally and environmentally responsible way.

As a result of this planning process, GEMCO has minimised the project disturbance area to 1,620 hectares, or 6% of the total Southern Lease area. It has also designed the project to avoid the most sensitive areas in the Southern Lease, including:

  • sacred sites
  • large perennial rivers and their floodplains
  • significant wetlands
  • monsoon vine thicket
  • coastal areas and estuaries.

Mining activity and infrastructure

Mining activity and infrastructure

The project will use existing mine infrastructure and equipment from the Western Leases, so there is limited new infrastructure that will be required for the project.

GEMCO will use the same mining methods it uses now and will truck the manganese ore from the Southern Lease to the concentrator at the Western Leases. 

The manganese will be washed at the existing concentrator and hauled by road trains along the Rowell Highway to the port so it can be shipped to countries around the world.

Some of the existing community tracks in and around the project area will need to be temporarily realigned for safety reasons during mining.

Access to all outstations, culturally sensitive areas, recreation areas and the coast will be maintained.

Community tracks will be re-established after mining.

Environmental approvals process

Environmental approvals process

The project requires environmental approval from:

  • the Northern Territory Environment Protection Authority (NT EPA) under the Environment Protection Act 2019 (NT)
  • the Australian Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth)

GEMCO is preparing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to support applications for these environmental approvals. As part of the EIS process, GEMCO is consulting with stakeholders and the community about the project.

Stakeholder Engagement

During the first phase of EIS consultation conducted in May and June 2023, GEMCO provided information about the project and the EIS process and sought stakeholder and community feedback. Consultants are now reviewing the feedback and preparing a consultation report and social impact assessment. GEMCO will provide an update to stakeholders about the feedback received, answers to frequently asked questions and the next steps for the project.

If you would like to discuss the project further, please call 1800 870 766 or email [email protected]

For more information about the EIS, please visit the NT EPA website (