BHP Billiton Environmental Impact Statement for its Olympic Dam project has been approved by the South Australian and Federal Government.
Dean Dalla Valle, BHP uranium president, said this “announcement is the
culmination of one of the most comprehensive and rigorous environmental assessment
processes undertaken in Australia and is another important milestone as we seek to develop
this world class ore-body.
“The first phase of the Olympic Dam project is currently in feasibility and its progression into
execution remains dependant on these approvals, the completion of all required studies and
on BHP Billiton Board approval.
“We are confident that, if approved, the project will generate significant new employment opportunities for South Australia in terms of direct employment, construction jobs, and
additional flow-on employment across the state for many years to come.”
However the approval does come with a number of conditions.
“We will undertake a range of monitoring measures, including real time monitoring of salinity,
to ensure we have no adverse impact on the marine environment of Spencer Gulf,” Dalle Valle said.
The approval and its conditions have drawn criticism from Greens member Mark Parnell.
“These so-called ‘stringent’ conditions are nothing more than a re-hashing of all the weak commitments that BHP Billiton has already promised for years,” Parnell stated.
“Today’s assessment report shows this project will be worlds away from ‘world’s best environmental practice’.
The Greens are now pushing for a debate in South Australian State Parliament to scrutinise the hundreds of pages in the agreement.
“The Government must not rush the approval legislation for the Olympic Dam Expansion through State Parliament to meet an artificial deadline of its own making,” Parnell said.
BHP is planning to develop a new open cut pit at the copper gold mine, and potentially mine uranium from the site as well.