BHP unveils copper discovery near Olympic Dam

BHP Olympic Dam. Image: BHP

BHP has identified an iron oxide, copper, gold (IOCG) mineralised system near Australia’s largest reserve of copper and uranium ore, the Olympic Dam operations in South Australia.

The mineralisation was found on BHP’s exploration licence 5941, 65 kilometres from Olympic Dam, as part of the company’s ongoing copper exploration program.

BHP confirmed that four diamond drill holes totalling 5346 metres had intersected copper, gold, uranium and silver mineralisation of IOCG style.

Laboratory assay results show downhole mineralisation intercepts ranging from 0.5–6 per cent copper with associated gold, uranium and silver metals. The results are under further evaluation and interpretation.

“This exploration project is at an early stage and there is currently insufficient geological information to assess the size, quality and continuity of the mineralised intersections,” BHP said in an ASX statement.

BHP plans to commence its next drilling program in the area in early 2019.

The tier one copper deposits in the Stuart Shelf, adjacent to the Olympic Dam, have been targeted in BHP’s copper exploration program along with its focused program in Ecuador, Canada, Peru, Chile and the south west of the United States.

“Copper and oil are the main focus of BHP’s exploration programs in order to replenish our resource base and enhance our portfolio,” BHP said.

BHP has reduced its 2019 copper guidance by 3 per cent due to a plant outage at Olympic Dam in August this year.

The company is, however, ramping up its focus on copper to supply future demand for electric vehicles and energy storage applications.

BHP has increased its exposure to South American copper by seeking a larger stake in Ecuador-focused SolGold.

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