BHP Billiton Promise a Plan for the Olympic Dam Expansion


BHP Billiton have requested an extension beyond the 15 December deadline for approving the Olympic Dam expansion, after last month deciding to defer the project indefinitely.

BHP last month said it would not meet the deadline for the Olymic Dam, as the capital costs were too high and it was going back to the drawing board to work out a more cost-effective system of expanding the copper, gold and uranium mine near Roxby Downs. However in an interesting turn of events, BHP has now asked for an extension to October 2016 – the first time a target date has been announced for completing the revised plans, reported The Australian.

Minister for Mineral Resources and Energy Tom Koutsantonis said the State government has received a letter from BHP Billiton requesting an extension

Speaking last week after a meeting with BHP Billiton, Mr Koutsantonis said: “Very careful consideration will now be given to the company’s request and the reasons given for seeking an extension.”

“This careful consideration will include our own due diligence into the changes now being suggested by BHP Billiton as a lower-cost alternative to the proposed expansion comprehensively set out in the company’s EIS.”

Last month BHP Billiton CEO, Marius Kloppers, said current market conditions, including subdued commodity prices and higher capital costs, had led to the decision:

“As we finalised all the details of the project in the context of current market conditions, our strategy and capital management priorities, it became clear that the right decision for the Company and its shareholders was to continue studies to develop a less capital intensive option to replace the underground mine at Olympic Dam.”

BHP vice-president of external affairs Kym Winter-Dewhirst said it had given the minister an overview of how the project would proceed, with the company expected to spend hundreds of millions of dollars advancing the project which would involve extracting the minerals by leaching them out of crushed ore, The Australian.