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Some of the best news for the Northern Territory economy is coming from one of the most remote places on earth.

Newmont’s Tanami operation, a 12-hour drive north-west from Alice Springs, has about 14 years of mine life to run.

But extensive expansion, exploration and development work underway could extend that even further.

About 1800 fly-in fly-out workers operate the underground mine, which is one of the biggest single contributors to the NT economy through $150 million a year in royalties and taxes and significant land access agreement payments to local Warlpiri Traditional Owners.

The sealing of the Tanami Road will make a huge difference to site logistics and to the safety of Tanami Road travellers.

While the NT and Federal governments have been investing in the upgrades to the Tanami Road, a significant portion remains unpaved and is known for its challenging conditions.

Tanami carries about three months’ worth of stock so the site can keep running in the Wet when the road can be cut off for months at a time.

Once the desert road is bitumen to the gate of the mine and beyond, it’s anticipated that road closures will be only one or two weeks per year. Newmont continues to work with the Central Land Council and Warlpiri through the Tanami Desert 10-Year Plan on road safety and service improvements, including coinvesting in water, shade shelter, and communications infrastructure along the road. The investment by the Commonwealth, Territory, and Western Australian governments will deliver many social and economic benefits for communities and businesses in the Tanami region.

Newmont Tanami prides itself on having a diverse workforce, especially in the creation of entry pathways for Aboriginal people.

About 14 percent of Tanami’s workforce is Aboriginal, with scholarships, bursaries, traineeship, and mentoring programs helping attract and retain skilled workers.


Newmont continues to prioritise employment opportunities for Warlpiri, Central Australian and Northern Territory Aboriginal people.

Under the Consolidated Mining Agreement, 20 percent of land-use royalties flow to the Warlpiri Education and Training Trust, which is operated under Warlpiri governance and is supported by the Central Land Council Community Development Unit to deliver education and training initiatives in the priority Warlpiri communities of Yuendumu, Lajamanu, Nyirrpi and Willowra.

Since establishment in 2005, the trust has invested more than $57 million across five focus areas designed to meet community-identified education priorities.

With the Newmont Tanami operation being located on Aboriginal freehold land, Newmont works closely with the land council on aspects directly associated with the operation and also across the region.

This is reflected in the development of the Tanami Desert 10-Year Plan, which has been developed between Newmont, the Central Land Council and the Warlpiri (Yapa) Traditional Owners to achieve stronger voice (governance), education and employment outcomes for Yapa across the Tanami region.

The Warlpiri Yapa Crew at the mine is a flexible and culturally secure entrylevel work-readiness, work experience, and skill development program.

It provides local Warlpiri people with workplace orientation, induction and foundational skills that may lead to employment at Tanami with options to remain with the Yapa Crew, transition into traineeships in other departmental areas, or opportunities within local communities including ranger programs.

The crew provides labor services, including general site services, cultural heritage, resource and land management, Traditional Owner support, and grounds and facilities maintenance.

In early 2019, the program was reviewed in collaboration with Yapa Crew members, resulting in many changes to the program structure, including a staged crew structure to incentivise and support progress into crew leadership roles.

The crew began a structured skills development program, which included off-site training blocks such as machine operation and the commencement – and, for a number of members, completion – of the nationally recognised Certificate III in Plant Operations.

Tanami, a long-life, high-value operation, began production in 1983; Newmont has fully owned and operated the mine since 2002. About 400,000 ounces of gold is expected to be produced this year.

The Tanami Expansion 2 (TE2) project is developing a hoisting shaft, which will increase the production of the underground mine from 2.6 million tonnes per annum to 3.2 million.

In the next few years, the project will include shaft lining and overbreak mitigation in the lower section of a 1.5 kilometre-deep production shaft.

The project is about 40 per cent complete with a total projected capital cost of up to $1.8 billion and an estimated completion date of the second half of 2027.

Newmont continues to work respectfully and responsibly to maintain important relationships and social acceptance of the operation with Warlpiri Traditional Owners, the Central Land Council, and other community and business stakeholders.

This includes investment in community development initiatives, including approximately $500,000 annually in community grants, scholarships, partnership and in-kind support.

Support for cultural events includes a partnership with the Warlpiri Media Aboriginal Corporation and the Warlpiri Project.

The project is supporting visits by Warlpiri elders to relevant Australian institutions, including the Museum of Western Australia, to view, identify, document and plan for repatriation of Warlpiri secret sacred objects to Warlpiri country, communities and keeping places in collaboration with the South Australia Museum.

This partnership builds upon historical support for the South Australian Museum to fund a project to catalogue and digitise Australia’s largest collection of Aboriginal cultural artefacts, including the Yuendumu Doors collection and exhibitions.

Through a partnership established with the Northern Territory’s premier dance company, Tracks, in 2009, Newmont continues to support the Milpirri Festival – a bilingual, bicultural celebration presented by the Warlpiri people of Lajamanu.

Every two years, on the eve of the wet season, the Lajamanu community and Tracks Dance come together under the stars of the desert sky.

Through dance, music and spectacular visual imagery, the energy of the youth and wisdom of the elders is celebrated.

In 2023, and for the first time, Milpirri was taken to a broader audience outside the community of Lajamanu through the inaugural Milpirri Sensorium showcasing Warlpiri culture in the Darwin Arts festival.

Newmont has established relationships with and continues support for the important Warlpiri community and cultural work of the Warlukurlangu and Warnayaka art centres.

With about 40 percent of employees resident in the Northern Territory, a range of roster options, and regular weekly flights in and out, there are plenty of opportunities for local people based in Alice Springs and Darwin to work at Tanami, including the expansion and promising Oberon project, which may result in an entirely new mine close to the existing Dead Bullock Soak operation.