BHP’s Olympic Dam plan released today

BHP Billiton will today release its revised plans for the expansion of its Olympic Dam mine.

The miner wants to double the copper, gold and uranium mine locate about 560 kilometres from Adelaide in South Australia.

Today the key details for the revised statement will be released for the expansion.

A decision is expected by the BHP board early next year and if it goes ahead, the mine will increase the Roxby Downs population significantly, with 10 000 workers expected to be employed at the mine for it’s decades-long lifespan.

Mayor Bill Boehm told Adelaide Now that the expansion of the mine would bring significant new infrastructure, including tennis, basketball and netball facilities, as well as a new oval and indoor swimming pool.

It will also bring improvements for the local library and childcare centres.

The benefits for the community have been welcomed by many locals, and Roxby Central Traders Association president Leigh Malcolm told local media that the sooner the expansion got under way the better.

He predicted business could improve by as much as 50 per cent, although there would be more competition.

"From a pure retail perspective it will be great for us," he said. "Everyone is pretty excited about it."

While some people are welcoming the changes it will bring in Roxby Downs, others are concerned about the environmental damage that will be cause by the mine.

They are particularly concerned for the cuttlefish located near a proposed desalination plant proposed north of Whyalla and the impact on the Great Artesian Basin in regards to waste handling.

Following the release of the EIS by the company, the expansion will need approval from State, Northerm Territory and Federal government.

The South Australian government would set out its operating parameters and royalty payments, under the new Indenture Act.

The draft EIS released in May 2009 received over 4000 submissions, with the state government alone raising 368 issues in its submission.

The submissions have requested better surveys about the potential risks the desalination plant poses to the ecosystem and Upper Spencer Gulf and more information on the proposed tailings storage facility to ensure it meets design safety and stability standards as well as posing minimal risk to local wildlife.

They also requested further examination of the long term impact the expansion would have on groundwater, particularly affected aquifers and the Great Artesian Basin.

The submission did welcome the miner’s commitment to get 40 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 60 per cent by 2050.

It has requested more information on how the company plans to implement the changes, saying the data is too vague for the company to be held accountable.


Image: BHP Billiton

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