BHP to face inquiry over Olympic Dam

The minor parties of South Australia’s Parliament have succeeded in pushing for an inquiry into BHP Billiton’s massive Olympic Dam project.

The inquiry will focus on investigating the legal agreement between BHP and the Government, and will have the power to call company executives in front of it to answer questions.

Both Premier Mike Rann and BHP have been pushing to pass the agreement through Parliament as quickly as possible.

BHP has indicated that as soon as the document has passed it will begin the process of spending up to $1.2 billion.

In a statement yesterday SA Greens leader Mark Parnell said despite the completion of a lengthy environmental impact statement the public and Parliament had not had the chance to question BHP directly.

Parnell said because of the massive scope and importance of the project an inquiry was required.

A spokesperson for BHP told The Sydney Morning Herald today the company did not object to the inquiry.

“We would expect to appear before the committee and we would be happy to do so,” they said.

The legal agreement between BHP and the Government was published yesterday but with several sections “intentionally omitted”.

Among the omitted sections were outlines of royalty payments and Government obligations.

The committee is expected to report back on the investigation on November 8.

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