With assessment guidelines released, the South Australian Government is advancing BHP’s proposed expansion of its Olympic Dam operations which will increase the mine’s production capacity from 200,000 to 350,000 tonnes per annum.
BHP is required to submit an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that is in line with the guidelines provided by the State Government – which includes the potential social, environmental and economic impacts of the project.
“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 ecosystem 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,” Minister for Energy and Mining Dan van Holst Pellekaan said.
In addition, the guidelines also include assessing potential new infrastructure requirements for the expansion as well as how associated development works will impact native vegetation, flora and fauna.
A major consideration in the South Australian Government’s assessment of the Olympic Dam Resources Development Strategy is the effects on impacted communities, including Aboriginal people and the Roxby Downs community.
“Once BHP has prepared a draft Environmental Impact Statement in response to the guidelines, it will be released for public and local government feedback.
“To gain approval the EIS must demonstrate the project can be delivered to the highest environmental safety standards,” Minister Pellekaan said.
The Olympic Dam operations is located approximately 560 kilometres north of Adelaide and it has significant deposits of copper, gold, silver and uranium.
The proposed expansion of the mine is anticipated to support up to 1,800 jobs during the construction phase and a further 600 jobs once operational.
“The Marshall Government welcomes BHP’s proposal to increase copper production by up to 75% per annum which will generate enormous employment and other economic benefits for South Australia,” Minister Pellekaan said.
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