Olympic Dam gains government approval

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The planned $30bn expansion of the Olympic Dam mine in South Australia has reached two crucial milestones in being approved at both federal and state level.

Mine owner BHP Billiton will still be required to submit a detailed environmental management plan to federal enviroment minister Tony Burke, and the BHP board is expected to make its final decision on whether to go ahead with the project next year.

Should the expansion go ahead, South Australia would become the home of the world's largest open cut mine, and the state is expected to have its economy boosted to the tune of $45bn over the life of the project. This could have a major impact on property values and rents across the state.

"Olympic Dam is the world's largest uranium deposit and a leading copper and gold resource," said BHP Billiton Uranium Customer Sector Group President, Dean Dalla Valle.

"The Olympic Dam expansion will deliver enormous benefits to the South Australian economy, including generating up to 6,000 new jobs during construction, a further 4,000 full time positions at the expanded open pit mine and an estimated 15,000 new indirect jobs.”

The mine currently produces 170,000 tonnes per annum (tpa) of copper and associated products and this figure is expected to increase more than four times to hit 700,000tpa should the expansion go ahead.

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