The South Australian Government wants to look for gold and copper in a highly controversial and restricted area.

The Woomera Prohibited Area (WPA) is a military testing range located about 400km north of Adelaide.

One area within the WPA, known as the ‘Red Zone’, is used year-round by Defence for weapons testing.

But South Australian Mining Minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan says there may be deposits of copper and gold inside the Red Zone.

The state has applied for Federal Government approval to run proposed geological, geophysical and geochemical surveys in the WPA.

“It's a key part of the Gawler Craton, the same area that includes Olympic Dam and Carrapateena, and several other very good resources,” he said.

“It's exactly the kind of place in South Australia that we believe potential new mines could be.

“The reality is, [the WPA] is a very special and highly prized, at an international level, military testing area.”

Mr van Holst Pellekaan says mining the Red Zone could be in the “nation's interest”.

“If we found that there was another Olympic Dam-sized mining opportunity, close to or in a section of the Red Zone, it might well be in the nation's interest for that mining to go ahead,” he said.

Anyone wishing to enter the WPA for non-Defence reasons needs Commonwealth.

“The Red Zone is very close to the town of Woomera and very close to that south-eastern boundary of the rocket range,” Mr van Holst Pellekaan said.

“It's not inconceivable that all the people that work there could actually reside outside of the Woomera Prohibited Area.

“[Workers] could just enter to do the work and come out and, yes, it would be possible to adjust Defence's operations within the WPA to work around that.”