The purpose of this study was to carry out an extensive literature and data search for, and analysis of, historical information and statistical data relevant to the mining sector, and to present the results of this research and analysis as a comprehensive and analytical discourse on the mining sector and its role within the Northern Territory economy. The research undertaken revealed that the history of the Northern Territory's mining sector predates permanent European settlement, dating as far back as 1623 when shipwrecked Portuguese found gold studded quartz on the coast of Arnhem Land. However, it was not until 1870 when gold was discovered at Yam Creek (mid-way between Pine Creek and Adelaide River) by the Overland Telegraph Line construction crew, that interstate and international speculators and mining houses started to take an interest in the Northern Territory as a possible prospective mineral region. Since the Yam Creek discovery, the mining sector has matured from an industry focused almost entirely on gold to an industry supplying the world with a broad range of mineral and energy commodities, and in the maturing process has become the most significant private sector industry in the Northern Territory, contributing to the economy through major export earnings, capital investment and employment. The more recent development of large scale mining operations at Gove, Groote Eylandt, Jabiru, McArthur River, and on/off-shore oil and gas developments all point to growing confidence in the Northern Territory as a world class minerals province. Over the period researched, mining sector projects stimulated regional development, frequently providing and/or adding to (as part of mining project establishment/expansion programs) infrastructure requirements necessary to the regional development process, thereby aiding the growth and maintenance of private and public sector services such as industrial support, recreational industries, tourism, health, education, and public utilities. In many respects the mining sector historical and statistical data researched demonstrated an indisputable nexus between mining and the development of many of the Northern Territory's towns and regional centres, supporting the conclusion that the role of the mining sector within the Northern Territory economy has been that of a catalyst for development.
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