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BHP’s Olympic Dam Mine Expansion Plan Assessed

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The Marshall Liberal Government have released assessment guidelines for BHP’s proposed Olympic Dam expansion, detailing the potential social, environmental and economic impacts of the production increase.

The proposal entails a staged increase in copper production at Olympic Dam from 200,000 to up to 350,000 tonnes per annum.

Minister for Energy and Mining Dan van Holst Pellekaan said, “The expansion has been granted Major Development status by the State Government and is expected to support up to 1,800 jobs during construction and an additional 600 ongoing operational roles thereafter.”

“The Major Development assessment process provides for the most rigorous assessment of BHP’s proposal to significantly increase copper production at Olympic Dam.

“BHP’s proposal is complex and will require a comprehensive investigation by the Department for Energy and Mining, the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure and the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment to ensure all environmental impacts and issues are adequately assessed.

“The guidelines require BHP to examine the impacts of increased water extraction from the Great Artesian Basin (GAB) including on the water resource, GAB springs ecosystems and existing GAB water users including pastoralists and petroleum producers.

“It will also require BHP to assess the impacts of increased mining and processing on human health and the environment, including any possible radiation, air quality and the management of additional waste - including tailings storage facilities.

“Importantly, the guidelines will also include an assessment of potential new infrastructure requirements and how associated development works may impact upon native vegetation, flora and fauna."

Once BHP has prepared a draft Environmental Impact Statement in response to the guidelines, it will be released for public and local government feedback.

A management decision on whether the expansion will go ahead is expected in 2021.

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