BHP re-ignites South Australian Olympic Dam project

BHP re-ignites South Australian Olympic Dam project

Olympic Dam sees new activity –

BHP starts a 2-year trial

In 2013, BHP had big plans to develop their Olympic Dam site into one of the biggest mines in the world. Some 20 billion dollars worth of investment was flagged by BHP to make this project happen – then it all went sour.

The wind was knocked out of the mining investment sails and the Olympic Dam expansion was put on the shelf. This created a wave of disappointment throughout the mining industry, especially in South Australia where the state was set to benefit from the enormity of the project.

BHP unveils plans for a pilot processing plant

Over a year later, the world-class mining company BHP is back in the mining news as it unveils plans to build a pilot processing plant at the mine. It’s not the $20 billion investment of 2013 – but it’s a start; and above all, it signals renewed interest in developing the mine.

When BHP pulled the plug on the Olympic Dam expansion, it also made it clear the proposed expansion was not dead and buried; rather it stated development of Olympic Dam would be staggered over period of time.

BHP is looking like it will run a three-year trial at Olympic Dam to see if it can find a cheaper method of processing copper and uranium. The mining company had already received Federal and South Australia Government approvals to submit a revised proposal to develop the mine.

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South Australian Treasurer Tom Koutsantonis said BHP is a long way away before full investment will be made in terms of upgrading the mine production processes.

Construction could start late 2015

If this new project gets approved, the pilot plant construction could start late 2015 with a two-and-a-half year processing trial envisaged.

Keen to get on the good side of BHP, the SA Chamber of Mines and Energy chief executive Jason Kuchel said, “Olympic Dam is a world class ore body. One day it will be expanded “” the question is when, not if”.

A decision on the BHP expansion of Olympic Dan from the Australian Federal Government, is scheduled for August 22; should federal assessment is needed.

“If the Olympic Dam project needs approval, it will be subjected to a thorough environmental assessment that will include another opportunity for public comment,” a spokesman for Environment Minister Greg Hunt said.

What’s next?

Olympic Dam is a project waiting to happen; not unlike many other mining projects in Australia. Take the Adani Carmichael coal mine in the Queensland Galilee Basin for instance. Although this mine is set to produce its first coal somewhere in 2017, the wheels have already started turning and there is activity occurring already.

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