The Australian Mining Review - - CONTENTS - Cameron Dru­mond

BHP has pro­duced the first cop­per cath­ode from its heap leach re­search and de­vel­op­ment tri­als which could sup­port a large in­crease in Olympic Dam’s an­nual out­put.

Speak­ing on 4 Septem­ber at the Bureau Ver­i­tas pi­lot plant in Wing­field, Ade­laide, BHP Olympic Dam as­set pres­i­dent Jac­qui McGill said heap leach­ing tech­nol­ogy could rev­o­lu­tionise pro­duc­tion at the mine.

“In­te­grated heap leach ore pro­cess­ing is a low-cost pro­cess­ing op­tion be­ing as­sessed for Olympic Dam to ex­tract cop­per, ura­nium, gold and sil­ver from our unique poly-me­tal­lic ore­body, and sup­port our fu­ture growth plans in the State,” Ms McGill said.

BHP said a se­ries of larger scale ex­per­i­ments and test­ing on the heap leach process would be un­der­taken over the next three years.

The miner also an­nounced an­other Olympic Dam mile­stone, with first ore be­ing pro­duced from its un­der­ground ex­pan­sion into the South­ern Min­ing Area (SMA) of the project.

“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,” Ms McGill said.

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

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

“A ded­i­cated team of ap­prox­i­mately 180 peo­ple have ac­cel­er­ated the de­vel­op­ment of the South­ern Mine Area over the past 15 months, and con­fir­ma­tion to­day of first ore is a tes­ta­ment to their hard work and com­mit­ment.

“See­ing the first out­put from the heap leach tri­als and from the SMA sup­ports mov­ing to­ward un­lock­ing Olympic Dam’s po­ten­tial and build­ing a foun­da­tion for long-term, sus­tain­able growth in South Aus­tralia.”

BHP said its heap leach­ing tech­nol­ogy meant Olympic Dam could po­ten­tially pro­duce more than 450,000t of cop­per each year.

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