More job cuts at BHP’s Olympic Dam

BHP Billiton is preparing to announce another round of job cuts at its Olympic Dam project in South Australia.

Over 100 staff, made up of mostly service contractors working at the mine, will be told of the cuts this morning, The Australian reported.

The mining giant is expected to blame lower commodity price – especially that of uranium – and the strong Australian dollar for the cuts.

BHP refused to confirm the cuts yesterday but did say the company "continues to focus on reducing overheads, operating costs and non-essential expenditures to ensure it remains competitive in the current environment of sustained lower commodity prices and a strong Australian dollar,”

"We have engaged with our workforce and other key stakeholders on a number of strategies to achieve savings across the business. We will communicate with our workforce first as further decisions are taken.”

Last year, BHP Billiton cancelled its $US20 billion Olympic Dam expansion, blaming weak commodity prices and spiraling costs.

The abandoned expansion resulted in cuts to 150 positions.

In November the South Australian Government granted BHP Billiton a four year extension so it can invest more time to plan its Olympic Dam expansion.

At the time, South Australian Mineral Resources and Energy Minister, Tom Koutsantonis said the request for an extension highlighted the mining giant’s commitment to the project.

BHP had told him they expected to spend hundreds of millions of dollars advancing the project which would involve extracting the minerals by leaching them out of crushed ore.

However, BHP CEO Marius Kloppers said that while the company was eager to approve the redevelopment of Olympic Dam, he could not guarantee it.

"We can unfortunately make no commitment, “he said.

BHP currently employs about 3500 workers at its Olympic Dam copper-uranium-gold mine.

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