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What you need to know about BHP Billiton's Olympic Dam

Mining giantBHP Billiton has suffered a power outage at its Olympic Dam in Australia. The company stated in an announcement that it was able to safely s...

Dale Benton
|Oct 3|magazine5 min read

Mining giant BHP Billiton has suffered a power outage at its Olympic Dam in Australia. The company stated in an announcement that it was able to safely shut down operations and used backup generators on site to reroute power and maintain essential operations.

There has been no further announcement as to the impacts of the power outage, which is said to have been caused by severe storms across South Australia last week.

What is the Olympic Dam?

Located in South Australia, just 560km shy of Adelaide, the Olympic Dam is home to a major oxide copper gold deposit.

The Olympic Dam produces copper, uranium, gold and silver. It was opened in 1988, by WMC Resources before BHP Billiton gained control of the company in 2005, with an A$92bn takeover.

The original discovery of the deposit was made in 1975, by WMC Resources, where it was expanded to a capacity of 200,000tpa or copper and 4,300 tpa of uranium.

BHP Billiton has a mine licence for the Olympic Dam, not a big one – just until around 2036. Which if you take into account it was acquired in 2005, that’s 31 years.

And it doesn’t stop there, the company also has the option to extend the licence by a further 50 years.

Since drilling operations from BHP began in 2005, the resource estimate of 3.98 billion tonnes has increased to 8.34 billion tonnes.

The Olympic Dam copper mine in Australia produced 203,000 tons of copper in fiscal 2016, accounting for some 13% of BHP's total output.

The company has stated that by 2050, the Olympic Dam mine would produce up to 60 Mtpa of ore.

 

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