There is plenty of money in the ground around Woomera in South Australia but there will be more money in the air in the next few months when the world’s first unmanned supersonic drone makes its maiden test flight inside the world’s biggest weapons testing zone.
Code-named Taranis, the British-designed drone has been 10-years in the design phase but is about to flying in a remote part of Australia which was once the site of nuclear tests but has earned more headlines recently for its deep mineral deposits.
One of the world’s biggest copper and uranium mines, the Olympic Dam project of BHP Billiton , is on the edge of the Woomera test area.
The smaller Cairn Hill iron ore and gold mine of IMX Resources is inside what was once a no-go area for anyone bar military personnel.
To visit Cairn Hill, which I did earlier this month, requires multiple levels of clearance and a signed promise to “not touch or interfere with any unexploded ordnance” — a promise easily made.