Minister for Defence and Minister for Resources and Energy – Joint Media Release – Woomera Prohibited Area Open to Resources Development

Minister for Defence Stephen Smith and Minister for Resources and Energy Minister Martin Ferguson today announced the next step in opening up the Woomera Prohibited Area (WPA) in South Australia to minerals exploration and resources development.

 “The Woomera Prohibited Area has great economic potential, with estimates that more than $35 billion of developments, including iron ore, gold and uranium projects would be possible over the next decade, ” Mr Ferguson said.

“We can now consider new applications for access to the area from companies wishing to explore for minerals,” Mr Smith said.

Defence will remain the primary user of the WPA.  The WPA is an essential capability for Defence testing and evaluation and required for Australia’s national security needs, but the new framework will enable greater access for industry to the resources rich WPA.

The Government has previously endorsed the Review undertaken by Dr Allan Hawke AC into the use of the WPA.  Dr Hawke’s recommendations regarding the future management and use of the WPA included a moratorium period on access which is now lifted.

Minister Smith and Minister Ferguson said that ending the moratorium on applications for access was an important day for industry which had an interest in the WPA.

Minister Ferguson said that implementing the recommendations of the Hawke Review will help secure the longevity of our minerals resources sector.

“The time sharing arrangement allows increased opportunities for resource exploration while maintaining Defence’s ability to continue its use of the WPA,” Minister Ferguson said.

“Implementing the recommendations of the Hawke Review will see the right balance between Australia’s national security and economic interests,” Mr Smith said.

The Review is being implemented in three phases – the moratorium on the granting of new non-Defence entrants access to the WPA, a transitional phase involving the development and implementation of enabling legislation, and a final phase where transitional arrangements are implemented and where permanent arrangements are put in place.

 Further information is available at

 Media Contacts:

 Mr Smith’s Office: Sacha Fenton (02) 6277 7800 or 0467 784 528

Mr Ferguson’s Office: Elyse Gatt (02) 6277 7930

Defence Media Operations (02) 6127 1999


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