BHP Billiton records major milestones at Olympic Dam

By Dale Benton
BHP Billiton’s extensive Olympic Dam expansion project continues to yield strong results, as the company achieves two major milestones at the site. T...

BHP Billiton’s extensive Olympic Dam expansion project continues to yield strong results, as the company achieves two major milestones at the site.

The company announced that it had produced the first copper ore from the high-grade underground expansion into the Southern Mining (SMA) as well as the first copper cathode produced from its heap leach Research and Development trials.

Olympic Dam Asset President Jacqui McGill said BHP is taking steps towards unlocking the potential of one of the world’s largest orebodies.

“The move into the SMA forms the foundation of Olympic Dam’s long-term expansion plans, and successful tests of the heap leach copper extraction technology have the potential to support an increase in production to over 450,000 tonnes of copper a year,” she said.

“We believe Olympic Dam can underpin jobs and economic development in South Australia for generations to come.

“An estimated A$250 million had been invested in the SMA expansion by the end of the 2017 financial year.”

The news comes soon after the company had announced plans to invest more than A$600mn over FY2018 into significant Olympic Dam expansion programs.


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The investment was apportioned across three key areas at the Olympic Dam site:

  • 20% of the investment supports the underground expansion into the high-grade Southern Mine Area, including additional fleet, telecommunications, raise bores, power and other services
  • 40% will underpin further underground development in the existing Northern Mine Area footprint; and
  • As announced, more than 40% directed to a wide range of infrastructure and other programs onsite, including major smelter campaign – which is aA$350mn construction program spread across FY2017 and FY2018

In July, the company also announced that it planned to invest around A$350mn in the smelter operations at Olympic Dam.

BHP planned to rebuild key elements of the smelter flash furnace, demolish and build a new electric slag furnace and remove and replace the five-story high electro static precipitator.


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