State Government grants extension on Olympic Dam expansion

13/11/2012

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Premier Jay Weatherill has announced that the South Australian Government has granted an extension to the indenture for BHP Billiton to expand Olympic Dam.

The period by which BHPB is required to approve the expansion has been extended to October 2016.

BHPB also has committed to spending more than $650 million over the next four years at Olympic Dam and on other initiatives within South Australia.

"BHP Billiton has recommitted itself to South Australia," Mr Weatherill said.

"The world-class resource at Olympic Dam will be unlocked, but on a longer time line.

"We have extended the indenture to allow BHPB to develop a revised plan, involving new and innovative ways of mining and processing.

"The level of BHPB's activity reinforces the commitment it has to its existing workers at Olympic Dam, which is the largest underground mine in Australia.

"These new activities will also ensure there are more flow-on jobs from the existing operations, let alone the thousands of jobs to be created with the expansion.

"We have a vision to make South Australia the mining services hub for Australia and our region.

"These commitments will be a substantial step towards that vision."

Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Tom Koutsantonis said Olympic Dam was an incredibly rich resource body and would be developed.

"Olympic Dam is still the world's biggest uranium resource and fourth biggest copper and gold resources.

"The independent advice I received showed BHP Billiton did face unforseen economic circumstances that prevented them from approving the original proposal by the December 15 deadline.

"This extension puts BHPB in the best position to develop a plan to secure the mine's expansion and the future prosperity of our State."

The extension will enable BHP Billiton to draft a less capital intensive plan than originally proposed for the expansion.

This will incorporate new technologies for the extraction of material from the mine pit and processing of the ores.

This revolutionary technology, including heap leach processing, has the potential to unlock deep ore bodies right a cross the State.

"This has the potential to make South Australia a global leader in heap leach mining technologies," Mr Weatherill said.

"This is something to which South Australia should aspire and I want to see our universities and local companies make the most of this opportunity."

BHPB has committed to a number of activities in South Australia during the extension period and to spending more than $540 million over the next four years on the re-scoping of the project itself, including the new technology studies and on-site works. More than $110 million has been committed to other initiatives within South Australia.

Mr Weatherill said BHPB's commitments include:

  • Substantial mine-related research
  • Investments in building capacity of mining services enterprises, including clustering arrangements
  • Environmental works, including partnerships with research institutions about marine impacts of Olympic Dam related activity
  • Supporting greater participation by Aboriginal people and businesses led by Aboriginal people.
  • Establishing a major national Aboriginal cultural event.