BHP, OZ Minerals to support SA water project

Rio Tinto

The Federal and South Australian governments have committed $15 million for a business case to take the Northern Water Supply project forward and further secure the state’s water future.

Mines in northern South Australia rely on these sources for their groundwater, which can be expensive to extract and can be affected by salinity and other water quality issues.

To support the business case, the SA Government has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with SA Water, BHP and OZ Minerals to progress the projects and address the region’s water needs.

BHP asset president Jennifer Purdie said the company is pleased to be involved in a project that has the potential to support industry and agriculture in rural and regional South Australia, by improving water stewardship and creating opportunities for future investment and jobs.

“This is a positive step forward in BHP’s commitment to make our Olympic Dam operations more sustainable,” Purdie said.

“South Australia has an important role to play in producing the high-quality copper the world needs to grow and decarbonise, and these types of projects can help us deliver more sustainably now and into the future.”

Among the options being considered is a desalination plant located in the Upper Spencer Gulf, which would reduce water reliance on the Great Artesian Basin and the River Murray.

A desalination plant would provide a sustainable and sufficient water supply to support many industries, including the burgeoning hydrogen industry, mining, and the transition to green steel.

If construction proceeds, the project could support up to 8000 construction jobs and up to 6000 ongoing jobs once operating.

OZ Minerals chief executive officer Andrew Cole said the company is keen to play a part in collectively exploring a sustainable way forward that creates value for regional communities and industries.

“Water is an essential consumable for our operations and a critical resource for our stakeholders, particularly for the communities in which we operate, so we recognise the need to responsibly consume this water,” Cole said.

“Although OZ Minerals does not draw from the Great Artesian Basin, we support this project for reducing consumption of groundwater and securing sustainable water sources for the future.

“Our South Australian assets, Prominent Hill and Carrapateena are in arid areas and use saline groundwater to sustain operations.

“Both assets use hypersaline water drawn from aquifers that do not compete with demand from natural systems or other land-connected people, and one of our aspirations as a modern mining company is to strive to minimise water use and add value when we do.”

The South Australian Chamber of Mines and Energy (SACOME) chief executive officer Rebecca Knol praised the government for proactively working with the resources sector to progress this major state economic development initiative.

“SACOME congratulates the state and federal governments, BHP and OZ Minerals for their collective commitment to South Australia’s growth,” Knol said.

“SACOME acknowledges the hard work done by BHP and OZ Minerals, the Marshall Government, Infrastructure SA and other government departments in laying the groundwork for today’s announcement.”

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