New copper processing plant application at Olympic Dam

New construction at Olympic Dam will create jobs later in 2015, as BHP Billiton has lodged an application for assessment by the federal and South Australian governments to construct and operate a demonstration plant for new leaching techniques.

Laboratory and pilot-scale trials of heap leaching, as an alternative process for extracting metals from ore, have shown promising results for up-scaling less capital-intensive processing techniques.

A new demonstration plant at the Olympic Dam site will further test this processing method at a larger and more integrated scale,

Providing approvals are granted, BHP Billiton expects construction of the demonstration plant to commence in the second half of 2015, with a projected three-year trial period to commence in late 2016.

BHP have also indicated a major smelter maintenance campaign will start in June 2015, which will flatten productivity growth throughout that financial year.

Record copper production rates brought an 11 per cent increase in FY2014, up to 184 kt.

The June quarter saw an annualised production rate of 214 kt.

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