The South Australian government has released assessment guidelines for BHP’s proposed expansion of the Olympic Dam. BHP had submitted a proposal to increase annual copper production at Olympic Dam mine to 350,000mt from the present 200,000mt.
These assessment guidelines include gauging potential new infrastructure requirements and the possible impact of development work on native vegetation, flora, and fauna.
BHP now needs to submit an environmental impact statement (EIS) following these guidelines. The South African government is set to examine the impacts of water extraction from the Great Artesian Basin (GAB) in South Australia and other impacts on human health and environment due to production ramp-up. Several departments including Energy Mining, Transport, Infrastructure, and others will carry out a comprehensive investigation into BHP’s proposal.
BHP’s Olympic Dam expansion project was awarded a major development status. Located 560kms to the north of Adelaide, the Olympic Dam is both underground and surface operations mine. It has deposits of copper, gold, silver, and uranium. The underground mine covers 450kms of underground roads and tunnels.
Olympic mine’s copper output was at 124,000mt in nine months till March 31, 2020. The mine is expected to produce 170,000mt of copper in FY2020 ending June. BHP produced 1.3mn mt of copper from its mines in Chile, Peru and Australia in nine months that ended on March 31, 2020. The company is expected to produce 1.7-1.82mn mt in FY 2020.