NT exploration halted to protect communities from coronavirus

The Central Land Council (CLC) has suspended all mining exploration activities in the Northern Territory to prevent the spread of coronavirus to vulnerable remote communities.

All exploration permits to Aboriginal land trusts have been suspended until at least April 30, when a review will be completed.

CLC chief executive Joe Martin-Jard said it was essential to put the needs of the community’s most vulnerable first as the virus continues to spread in Australia.

The organisation has contacted seven exploration companies that operate in the area to cancel entry permits of staff and contractors until further notice.

“We are contacting exploration companies to tell them that their entry permits have been revoked as a public health measure,” Martin-Jard said.

“With government plans for the COVID-19 response in remote communities only just taking shape, our constituents need to be able to participate fully in the planning required to overcome what will be a huge logistical and practical challenge.

“We are asking everyone to put the needs of the most vulnerable fist by staying away from remote communities and have instructed our town-based staff to do the same.”

Castile Resources responded the CLC’s announcement, confirming it has ceased all non-essential travel to the Northern Territory.

“The company will immediately comply with all CLC access permit restrictions as the health and safety of local communities is paramount at all times,” Castile stated in an ASX announcement.

“The company now expects delays to its planned exploration drilling program that was due to commence in the middle of April 2020.”

Castile will continue activities associated with the Rover 1 copper-gold deposit pre-feasibility study, using local Tennant Creek contractors, who will consult with the company officials based in Perth.

These works will include metallurgy and process design studies, tailings dam design, road network design, an environmental impact study, camp accommodation planning and collating geophysics and drilling data.

The Australian Health Protection Principal (AHPP) has recommended measures to protect vulnerable people from coronavirus, including those living in remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

“There is evidence that COVID-19 (coronavirus) has started to spread in Australian communities,” the AHPP stated.

“We are unable to do widespread COVID-19 testing so it’s important to apply other measures at this early stage.”

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