BHP’s technology problems with its dubious Olympic Dam uranium mine plan
BHP Billiton’s desperate Olympic race Business Spectator Robert Gottliebsen, 30 Jul 2012 “……there is another problem that is causing some to speculate that BHP needs a technical as well as a customer partner at Olympic Dam. BHP was once a global mining technology giant. That is no longer so and it relies on outsiders for much if its technical expertise.
The company has a history of failure in high technology mining ventures including Hartley Platinum, hot iron briquettes, mineral sands and Ravensthorpe…..
Any non-smelter solution to Olympic Dam will again thrust BHP into high technology mining treatment where it has a track record of failure.
BHP is not the only global miner to run down its technology in favour of highly profitable digging and shipping. If BHP steps back from Olympic Dam in December it should also reveal any wider long-term treatment problems and canvass new partners.
Footnote: BHP’s environmental statement revealed it planned to spend six years removing the overburden to access the ore body. In all, it planned to remove a 350 metre thick layer of overburden and the rock taken out will be transported to a rock storage facility that covers 6,720 hectares and will eventually be 150 metres high. By 2050, when the mine has not even completed half its life, the pit would be 4.1 kilometres long, 3.5 kilometres wide and one kilometre deep …..”
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