BHP is investing more than $600 million into its Olympic Dam copper operations in South Australia, with a range of expansion and development works set for the 2018 financial year.
Speaking at the American Chamber of Commerce even in Adelaide on Friday, Olympic Dam asset president Jacqui McGill said the operations has 49 projects underway this financial year, representing the most significant investment the company has ever made in its South Australian operations.
“These investments – in our underground infrastructure and above ground processing operations – will help us build the foundations for long term, safe, stable and sustainable growth at Olympic Dam,” she said.
“The investment will ensure the operation is more modern, reliable and can support processing of additional tonnes in coming financial years.”
The $600 million capital investment will be distributed across three main areas at Olympic Dam, with around 20 per cent to support underground expansion in the Southern Mine Area including additional fleet, telecommunications, raise bores, power and other services; nearly 40 per cent to be used for further underground development in the existing Northern Mine Area footprint; and more than 40 per cent allocated to a range of infrastructure and other programs on site including the major smelter campaign.
Last month, BHP announced a $350 million investment in Olympic Dam’s smelter operations, which will involve rebuilding elements of the smelter flash furnace, demolishing and building an electric slag furnace, and removing and replacing a five-storey electro static precipitator.
McGill said Olympic Dam had more work programs to be conducted this financial year than any other BHP operation in Australia.
BHP is also increasing its workforce to support these additional works, with the number of female employees also increasing by 20 per cent over the last 12 months.
McGill also said BHP is focusing on strengthening its relationships with its contractors.
“Our recent efforts to renew our focus on effective contractor relationships has also been a success – through our Industry Capability Network Gateway online, we had a total of 226 submissions and 70 per cent of registrations new to Olympic Dam and more than 30 per cent were from South Australia,” she said.
BHP will require around 250 roles at any one time for its current and future growth projects.