MARK COLVIN: The head of BHP Billiton, Marius Kloppers, says he cannot guarantee that the company will redevelop the Olympic Dam mine in the future.
BHP talking about leaching methods for Olympic Dam uranium mine
AUDIO No guarantee for Olympic Dam mine expansion ABC Radio P.M. http://www.abc.net.au/pm/content/2012/s3581996.htm Nicola Gage reported this story Sept 3 2012,
“……NICOLA GAGE: Mr Weatherill says he was informed on the different technologies BHP are looking into. That included new forms of conveyor belts, and the potential use of heap leach technology.
JAY WEATHERILL: Which has been investigated in laboratories and is, over a period of six years, has been scaled up to a certain size in terms of tests, but needs to be tested further to see whether it can be brought to scale and be used for full production.
NICOLA GAGE: Heap leach technology was flagged as an alternative extraction option in BHP’s original environmental impact statement in May 2009. The company already uses it in South America.
Professor Bill Skinner specialises in environmental surface science at the University of South Australia.
BILL SKINNER: There is a precedent for heap leaching technology in Australia, so it’s not exactly a unique process in Australia.
NICOLA GAGE: While it might be considered a new technology in the public arena, the process has been around for years. But Professor Skinner says difficulties with constancy made it expensive.
BILL SKINNER: In the last few years, quite a lot more has been learned about the process that goes on inside a heap leach, and how one treats the ore in order to make sure that one heap behaves very similar to another, and sort of keep reproducibility up, because after all, that reproducibility of the process governs the constant, if you like, valuable recovery from those heaps.
NICOLA GAGE: Questions have been raised about whether another environmental impact statement would be needed with any future expansion. Premier Jay Weatherill.
JAY WEATHERILL: Because we don’t know what the technology is, it’s, it becomes difficult for us to make an assessment about whether there is any additional environment risk. We know that there are some leaching technologies that are used in different parts of the state, but on the face of it, yes, they do raise environmental issues. So, of course, there’s the feasibility of the technology, but then there’s the environmental approvals that may go with that.
NICOLA GAGE: The company’s 15,000-page environmental impact statement expires in 2016. …
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