Earthquake shakes Olympic Dam

BHP Billiton’s Olympic Dam was on Thursday evacuated as a result of an earthquake.

Geoscience Australia recorded a magnitude 3.4 jolt at 5:11am.

A BHP Billiton official said clearing the mine was a standard response, Seven News reported.

He said the earthquake was felt by both underground and surface employees, but all personnel were accounted for.

The company conducted an underground inspection and only minor damage was reported, mining operations resumed at about lunchtime that day.

In mid 2011 Australian Mining reported a 3.3 magnitude earthquake rocked Kalgoorlie-Blouder in Western Australia.

Barrick Gold's nearby Kanowna Belle mine was safely evacuated at the time.

Earlier this year Australian scientists released a study detailing how minor earthquakes can instantly create new gold veins underground.

According to the new study, published in Nature Geoscience, the process can occur within a few tenths of a second along 'fault jogs' – the cracks that connect the main fault lines in the earth's crust.

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