After years of speculation, South Australian investors have had to accept grim news: BHP Billiton’s Olympic Dam expansion will not be happening.
The resources giant this week announced that crippling development costs and weak commodity prices led to the decision to shelve its US$30bn plan to expand the mine.
The Olympic Dam expansion was expected to create 8,000 construction jobs and 4,000 permanent jobs in desert community Roxby Downs, as well as considerably more associated industry jobs in South Australian coastal ports.
The expansion would have also created the world's largest uranium mine and increased copper output almost fourfold to 750,000 tons a year. South Australia’s economy was to further benefit from a 6% addition to gross state product.
The Australian reported that the company made the announcement after reporting a 35% drop in full-year profit and a freeze on new project spending for the 2013 financial year.
BHP Billiton chief executive Marius Kloppers said the decision was motivated by the high cost of development in Australia. "The decision is almost wholly associated with, in the first instance, capital costs," he said.
Kloppers said BHP would now examine less expensive options to expand the mine, but no timeframe has been given.
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