Statement from Premier Weatherill regarding Olympic Dam



Wednesday. 22 August 2012

Premier Jay Weatherill issued this statement in response to BHP Billiton's announcement on the Olympic Dam expansion.

"I have been advised by BHPB of the decision of their Board to defer the Olympic Dam expansion project to allow the development of a new mine plan based on new technologies which will involve capital efficiencies for consideration by the Board.

"BHPB have requested that discussions with the State Government concerning the implications of this decision for the indenture agreement take place as soon as possible.

"There is no doubt this is a major disappointment for South Australia and the nation - especially for those workers and businesses who had set themselves to work on the expansion project.

"It is also a particular disappointment for regional towns like Roxby Downs, Port Augusta, Port Pirie and Whyalla which had started to experience the benefits in activity that this expansion was bringing.

"As BHPB have made clear today, this decision is based on global factors quite outside our control.

"South Australia and the Commonwealth have done everything in our power to provide the
circumstances for the project to proceed - a point acknowledged by BHPB.

"What I want to say to South Australians is that these resources are world class. They are still there. They belong to us, and they will be developed.

"What I have explained to BHPB is that beyond their regulatory approvals, they also need community permission to develop this resource.

"Given that this is the second time they have disappointed South Australians, there can be no doubt that this community permission will come at a cost.

"I have been told by BHPB that they wish to proceed with an expansion and they need to do this in the coming years because the life of the underground mine is finite, and there are clear advantages to them of retaining the environmental approvals that are already in place.

"They have told me that they will continue the site preparation and engineering works at Olympic Dam to ensure that they are ready to proceed in a major way.

"They have told me that they will undertake a series of pilot tests on the new technologies that will assist them to bring this project on.

"The discussions BHPB have requested with the South Australian Government will take place over the coming weeks, and will need to be concluded before the end of the year."