What you need to know about BHP Billiton's Olympic Dam
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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Zimbabwe targets £8.8bn mining industry by 2023
Zimbabwe’s government plans to fast-track exploration, evaluation and digitalisation of selected reserved mining areas under the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development as part of wider measures to achieve a £8.8 billion mining industry by 2023, according to a senior government minister.
Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said other plans include stopping the issuance of special grants in the reserved areas under the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development until the exploration and evaluation is complete and a robust value addition program for diamonds is implemented.
Mutsvangwa was speaking at a post-cabinet media briefing on December 15.
She adds that the issuance and renewal of special grants for energy should also be based on the financial and technical capacity to value add all types of coal, as well as for ideal exploration of Coal Bed Methane.
For renewal of special grants, consideration should take into account the period the Special Grant has been held as well as plans with milestones for value addition of the special grant, Mutsvangwa says. She adds that the Zimbabwean government expects gold to drive the mining sector in order to achieve the ambitious target, with the precious metal expected to contribute approximately £2.96 billion to the overall target.
Mining is one of Zimbabwe’s major contributors to its economy, alongside agriculture, which is the mainstay. The mining sector accounted for more than 60 percent of the country’s foreign currency receipts in 2019, and contributed around 16 percent to national Gross Domestic Product, the Chamber of Mines says.
The country’s mining industry is focused on a diverse range of small to medium mining operations. The most important minerals produced in Zimbabwe include gold, asbestos, chromite, coal and base metals.
Zimbabwe expects its economy to expand by 7.4 percent in 2021 from a projected contraction of 4.5 percent this year, due to the effects of drought and the COVID-19 global pandemic.
When presenting the 2021 National Budget in November this year, Finance and Economic Development Minister, Professor Mthuli Ncube, said that the mining sector is projected to rebound by 11 percent next year after surviving a COVID-19 induced shock that saw the sector contract by 4.7 percent in 2020. In September, mining bans in national parks were introduced, according to news agencies.
He added that the National Budget would allocate £1 billion towards the operations of the ministry for planning, promotion and exploration, data capturing, and automation, among other key mining processes.
Other factors necessary for the achievement of the £8.8 billion target include a stable macroeconomic environment, policy consistency, and availability of long-term capital to fund mining projects along the entire mineral value chain, the minister said.
Stopping "illicit financial flows" from gold smuggling is another key issue to address, according to media reports.