The Olympic Dam expansion - the destruction continues

The worlds largest open cut mine will further mutilate the land that has been protected and allowed to naturally evolve for thousands of years under the custodianship of Indigenous peoples.

The invaders have no respect for country that doesn't look like "good old England" and due to their obsession for money they are willing to lie, cheat and desecrate everything in their path.

Kevin Buzzacott, an Arabunna elder from Lake Eyre, has called for the scrapping of BHP Billiton's Olympic Dam uranium and copper mine expansion.

Elder wants Olympic Dam stopped

Sky News October 11, 2011


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Uncle Kevin Buzzacott

An Aboriginal elder and anti-nuclear campaigner has called on the South Australian government to scrap its approval of BHP Billiton's Olympic Dam uranium and copper mine expansion.

Kevin Buzzacott, an Arabunna elder from Lake Eyre and president of the Australian Nuclear Free Alliance (ANFA), said the government should impose a moratorium on uranium mining because of the long-term impacts of the nuclear industry.

'We are not going to rest until the government reverses its decision,' Mr Buzzacott said in a statement on Tuesday.

'We want BHP Billiton out of the desert.'

The SA and federal governments on Monday granted BHP permission to develop the world's largest open-pit mine at Olympic Dam, producing 750,000 tonnes of copper and 19,000 tonnes of uranium oxide each year.

Over the 40-year life of the project, the mine will grow to be more than four kilometres long, 3.5 kilometres wide and one kilometre deep.

Much of the ore will be carried by rail through the Northern Territory for export from Darwin.

ANFA spokeswoman Donna Jackson said the ore transport raised further concerns.

'The transport and export of these goods puts additional pressures on our emergency services,' she said.

'If we increase the volume, we increase the chance of an accident happening.'

Uncle Kevin Buzzacott belongs to the Arabunna peoples. He has protested against uranium mining at Olympic Dam, South Australia on Arabunna land and the extraction of underground waters from the Great Artesian Basin for the mining of uranium. In 2001 he was awarded the prestigious Nuclear-Free Future Award, in Ireland, and in 2007 the Australian Conservation Foundation awarded him the Peter Rawlinson Award for two decades of work highlighting the impacts of uranium mining and promoting a nuclear free Australia. - Kevin Buzzacott Biography

We've gotta talk about yesterday, first, before we can talk about today - then we can move into tomorrow. - Uncle Kevin Buzzacott

Greens say Olympic Dam expansion a health threat

Nance Haxton ABC News - PM October 11, 2011

The site after the
invaders discovered
Copper & Uranium

Olympic Dam mine in South Australia is located around 550 km NNW of Adelaide. It is an extremely large iron oxide copper gold deposit - producing copper, uranium, gold and silver.

The site hosts an underground mine as well as an integrated metallurgical processing plant. It is the fourth largest copper deposit and the largest known single deposit of uranium in the world, though uranium represents only a minority of the mine's total revenue.

The deposit was discovered by Western Mining Corporation in 1975 near Roxby Downs Sheep Station and started production in 1988. It now belongs to BHP Billiton, which acquired WMC Resources in 2005.

The mine currently operates by an underground mining method called sublevel open stoping. The March 2005 mine production rate is an annualised 9.1 million tonnes making it one of Australia's larger mines.

2005 metal production is thought to be in excess of 220,000 tonnes of copper, 4500 tonnes of uranium oxide, plus gold and silver. The copper and uranium oxide are exported through Port Adelaide. Most of the mine workers live in the nearby towns of Roxby Downs and Andamooka. Regular flights to Olympic Dam Airport serve Olympic Dam.

Pre expansion
Water Usage/Abuse

The Olympic Dam mine uses 35 million litres of Great Artesian Basin water each day, making it the largest industrial user of underground water in the southern hemisphere. Because artesian pressure is high in the south of the basin the water flows to the surface via mound springs.

Water is pumped along an underground pipeline from two bore fields which are located 110 km and 200 km to the north of the mine. The salty bore water requires desalination before it is used. Contaminated water from mining operations is passed through a series of sealed ponds where it evaporates.

This is having a major negative effect on rare and endangered flora and fauna of nearby mound springs, which are drying out as a result of the water draw-down rate.


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Wabma Kadarbu Mound Springs

The mound springs are the only permanent source of water in the arid interior of South Australia and a delicate yet intricate ecological balance has been established. Due to their prolonged isolation the mound springs contain many rare and endemic species that have undergone genetic differentiation and speciation.

The springs are important as drought refuge areas for much wildlife and as wetlands for migratory birds, recognised as being of national importance. The rare and endemic species include plants, fish, hydrobiids, isopods, amphipods and ostracods, many of which occupy specialised areas within a spring such as the open pool, outer rim or the rocky outflow channel, are threatened by mining operations.

Info source: Wikipedia (edited)

The Greens say the decision to give the go-ahead for the world's largest copper and uranium mine will result in enormous harm to public health.

The Federal, South Australian and Northern Territory governments have given environmental approval for the expansion of the Olympic Dam mine in South Australia's north.

BHP Billiton's proposed mine expansion near Roxby Downs has been approved under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act.

But Greens spokesman Scott Ludlam says the giant tailings dam that BHP Billiton plans for the expansion will eventually contain millions of tonnes of carcinogens, which throws some doubt over whether the crucial Indenture Act will pass the South Australian Parliament.

"For the Environment Minister to say that that's appropriate for that material to be blowing around on the surface for all time is absolutely extraordinary," Mr Ludlam said.

But Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke says his approval comes with 100 environmental conditions.

"We have the toughest environmental conditions that you'll ever find imposed on a uranium mine," he said.

Mr Burke says the conditions apply for 10 years after the life of the mine.

The expansion of Olympic Dam will create 10,000 jobs - 4,000 in mining and 6,000 in construction.

It will require a new town to be built alongside Roxby Downs to cope with the influx of workers.

While the State Government will not release exact figures on how much the expansion is projected to cost, saying it would breach commercial in-confidence undertakings, it is rumoured to be worth at least $20 billion.

It will transform Australia's biggest underground mine into one of the world's largest open pit mines.

Production of copper, gold and uranium will rise six-fold.

"I think these are the most stringent environmental standards placed on any expansion in the Federation of Australia. I mean look this is, without trying to be dramatic about it, the largest undertaking in mining in human history," South Australian Mineral Resources Minister Tom Koutsantonis said.

Conditions

The Northern Territory Government also approved the expansion along with Mr Burke.

"We've ended up with a lot of conditions but you need to make sure a project like this size can go through in a way that doesn't create unacceptable environmental outcomes," he said.

"And at the same time you end up with an extraordinary outcome for the South Australian economy."

Mr Koutsantonis says despite the massive expansion BHP Billiton will not draw any more water than it already is from the Great Artesian Basin, instead relying on a new desalination plant near Whyalla.

One of the main concerns raised about the project was whether the desalination plant would harm the nearby colony of giant cuttlefish and decimate the local fishing industry.

Mr Koutsantonis says they have put stringent environmental requirements on the plant but they expect that will not make everyone happy.

"We've also allowed the EPA to license these approvals. There will be real-time monitoring," he said.

"If at any stage the desalination plant leaches saline water that breaches those conditions the EPA has the authority to shut down the desalination plant."

No guarantee

Mr Koutsantonis also pointed out that this is not the final approval in the process towards the expansion of Olympic Dam.

MineLife senior resources analyst Gavin Wendt says there is no guarantee BHP Billiton will recommend the expansion of the mine.

He says the mining company will be looking at a number of factors before giving the project the green light.

"They'll weigh up the potential returns from those particular commodities and the enhanced production," he said.

"And on the negative side they'll weigh up the costings. And we're in a high costings environment at the present time, particularly with respect from the Australian resources industry."

But Mr Wendt says falling copper production worldwide is likely to encourage BHP Billiton to press ahead with the expansion of its Olympic Dam mine in South Australia.

"BHP will be commissioning additional copper production from Olympic Dam at just the right time," he said.

"There's likely to be quite a looming supply gulf. This additional production should be snapped up by the markets, so I don't envisage there will be a dampening effect on copper prices."

Indenture Act doubts

The Indenture Act is yet to be finalised and signed and will include final details such as royalties and how much local companies will be involved in construction.

Mr Koutsantonis on Monday repeatedly referred journalists' questions about finer details of the project to the Indenture Act.

"All will be revealed in the indenture. You want a few timelines about BHP's approval you have to wait [until] the indenture," he said.

"Again I don't want to pre-empt the indenture but I think you'll find a lot of your questions answered in the indenture."

This has left the Liberal Opposition wondering about the process.

"This is going to tie this state up for years to come, generations indeed," Opposition Leader Isobel Redmond said.

"And it is only appropriate that we do everything necessary to satisfy ourselves that this is a good deal and is in the best interests of this state."

Once the Government finalises the Indenture Act it is up to BHP Billiton to sign the agreement.

Mike Rann's last day as Premier is October 20, and with his much publicised preference to have negotiations finalised before he steps down, it is clear the Indenture Act will be complete before then.

Once signed the Act will be presented to the South Australian Parliament for approval.

Concerns

South Australian Greens Leader Mark Parnell says they still have grave concerns about the project and their approval is far from assured.

"We're talking about the biggest industrial project in this state's history and we have to get it right," he said.

"We're not interested in meeting any artificial timelines that the outgoing Premier may have announced. We want to get this right."

Another significant aspect is the expansion of the uranium mining operation, exporting 19,000 tonnes of uranium oxide a year through ports in Darwin or Adelaide.

Mr Ludlam says the environmental approval process is a disgrace.

"At Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory the company has an obligation to isolate the tailings, put them back into the pit and look after them for 10,000 years. That's actually written into their licence condition," he said.

"In South Australia the company will be allowed to dump a vastly larger volume of carcinogenic tailings and leave them on the surface and walk away. That's an extraordinary public hazard lying there essentially for all time."

Part of the approval process requires BHP to significantly start construction within the next five years.

BHP Billiton's board will make a final decision on whether to proceed by Easter next year.

Mr Koutsantonis says if they decide not to go ahead all environmental approvals will lapse and the process will effectively start again.

Comments

Arabunna Elder Kevin Buzzacott

seeking quote or statement for Olympic dam expansion

what is the general attitude of the people of that particular area? Do they express those environmental concerns and if they do, what are they planing to do?

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