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Hon Dan van Holst Pellekaan MP, Minister for Energy and Mining.

The assessment guidelines for BHP’s proposal for a staged increase in copper production at Olympic Dam from 200,000 to up to 350,000 tonnes per annum have been released today by the Marshall Government.

Minister for Energy and Mining Dan van Holst Pellekaan said the assessment guidelines detail the potential social, environmental and economic impacts to be assessed by BHP as part of consideration of an expansion of operations at Olympic Dam.

“The State Development Act requires BHP to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to the highest legislative standard regarding its proposal to increase copper production at Olympic Dam, said Minister van Holst Pellekaan.

“The expansion of Olympic Dam has been granted Major Development status by the State Government and is expected to support up to 1800 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.

“The effect of the proposal on impacted communities, including Aboriginal people and the Roxby Downs community, will be a key consideration of the Government’s assessment of BHP’s Olympic Dam Resource Development Strategy.

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

“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.

“To gain approval the EIS must demonstrate the project can be delivered to the highest environmental safety standards.”

The assessment guidelines have been informed by expert government agency advice, including from the Environment Protection Authority, Department of Environment and Water, Department for Energy and Mining, Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure and the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.

More information

Friday 22 May 2020