Olympic Dam underground mine could go ahead – 170km of tunnels over the next five years
BHP Billiton could spend hundreds of millions of dollars expanding its South Australian Olympic Dam underground mine in the next few years.
The project would involve expanding into the southern section of the existing copper, gold and uranium deposit – building 170km of tunnels over the next five years.
The plan, which will need BHP board approval, also will include upgrading the above-ground plant and is linked to the successful outcome of trials on a more cost-effective processing method.
The decision in 2012 by BHP to withdraw from the open pit expansion plan was a kick in the teeth for the South Australian community and the State as a whole.
Returning to SA in June to take over as BHP`s Olympic Dam asset president, Ms McGill has been given the task of trimming operational costs and managing the processing trials using heap leaching, where a particular solvent is run through crushed ore to extract the minerals. The heap leach trials are progressing well, but would take several years to complete.
BHP’s Olympic Dam had the reputation of being one of the more expensive global copper producers in the world and had to drastically reduce its cost to be competitive in the industry.
Current BHP plans to move into the southern mining area demonstrate that they are serious about unlocking the potential of this incredible ore body.
BHP said the SA population could count on them to support the local communities, but patience was needed to allow the company to perfect the systems, then it was all go.
Olympic Dam is the fifth biggest copper, third largest gold deposit and the biggest single uranium deposit in the world. In terms of mine-life longevity, BHP has stated the figure of some 200 years is not to be dismissed.
In 2014-15, BHP Billiton invested some $580 million with South Australian suppliers and contractors. The company paid $70 million in taxes and royalties, $8 million on Aboriginal enterprises, $1.6 million on community initiatives and heavily supported local universities as well as cultural initiates and health.
“BHP Billiton Olympic Dam underground mine expansion”
Learn more about the Bowen Basin mining location.
The Bowen Basin contains the largest coal reserves in Australia. This major coal producing region contains one of the world’s largest deposits of bituminous coal.
The Basin contains much of the known Permian coal resources in Queensland including virtually all of the known mineable prime coking coal. It was named for the Bowen River, itself named after Queensland’s first Governor, Sir George Bowen.
The Bowen Basin covers an area of over 60,000 square kilometres in Central Queensland running from Collinsville to Theodore and is dotted with many coal mines operated by multiple mining companies.
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Resources and Infrastructure Industry (RII)
Commonly refered to as Black Coal Competency (BCC), the RII competency is one that can be attained by an operator who has previously worked in the industry and has completed a number of operating hours on various types of machinery.
RII competency is granted to prove correct and safe operation of mine site machinery. It is a very useful qualification to have, as it confirms the operator has the required experience and expertise.
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