Richard provided a comprehensive update on plans for the expansion of Olympic Dam, which is already Australia’s largest underground mine, producing 12 per cent of South Australia’s total exports. Uranium deposits are 40 per cent of known world uranium in the ground and it’s the sixth largest copper resource. The expanded mine would have 4,430 million tonnes of minerals.
Should the project proceed, BHP Billiton would convert the underground to an open pit mine the size of Adelaide city (see diagram), which would require 350 million tones per year of overburden removal before even getting to the minerals. There would be a new construction camp for 8,000 people and new accommodation and services would be provided, doubling the size of Roxby Downs’ population.
The pre-feasibility study is underway and South Australia waits with bated breath for BHP Billiton’s final decision.