BHP Billiton cuts job at Olympic Dam

BHP Billiton has announced it will make 380 job cuts at Olympic Dam mine in South Australia.

This is the fourth round of job cuts at the mine since the start of this year, after announcing a workforce reduction in January, around 50 contractor positions in March, and 140 positions going in late June as part of a business simplification.

Olympic Dam Asset president Jacqui McGill said the cuts come after an ongoing review of operations in response to global challenges in the resources sector.

McGill said Olympic Dam needed to transform into a sustainable operation.

BHP cancelled its $US20 billion Olympic Dam expansion plans in August 2012, blaming weak commodity prices and rising costs.

In September last year, BHP Billiton CEO Andrew Mackenzie said the company was working hard at plans to expand the mine, calling it a “phenomenal resource”.

Mackenzie said work being undertaken on the heap leach process that would remove duplications were going well after the company was granted permission by the federal government to trial the process on site.

The trial involves crushing a day’s worth of ore, stockpiling it and then slowing pouring an acidic solution through the heap to leach out uranium and copper.

Reiterating the company’s commitment to Olympic Dam, BHP decided to keep the mine instead of bundling it up into other assets which moved over to demerged company South32.

BHP recently revealed Olympic Dam has the longest mine life of all its assets, estimated to be 200 years.

The ore body contains copper, uranium, gold and silver worth an estimated $1 trillion. 

The job cuts come as a further blow to South Australia which has seen thousands of job losses this year.

Arrium mothballed its Southern Iron project in January resulting in 600 job cuts, while 440 jobs will be lost after Alinta Energy announced it will close two coal-fired power stations in Port Augusta, along with the Leigh Creek coal mine.

Meanwhile Santos has also flagged plans to cut jobs in the state.

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