On the evening of 6 October, an incident at BHP Billiton's Olympic Dam uranium and copper underground mine in South Australia significantly damaged operating equipment at the Clark Shaft haulage system, which is responsible for around 75% of the mine's ore production.
Repair work to damaged equipment is well advanced with the removal of the haulage system's winder, which next week will be sent for repairs to Whyalla.
In addition, temporary equipment will be commissioned on 18 November that will allow repair work to commence inside the Clark Shaft.
Ore production is continuing via the secondary Whenan Shaft, which is hoisting approximately 25% of production and trials are beginning soon on trucking some ore to the surface via the existing decline.
The temporary closure of the Clark Shaft has enabled the company to bring forward significant maintenance work originally scheduled for the 2010 calendar year, including a major smelter reline. The rescheduled maintenance work is set to begin on 16 November and run until mid-January.
While the temporary loss of the Clark Shaft will impact contractor numbers at the site, this will be largely offset by new contractors coming on-site for the smelter maintenance work.Consistent with statements in the company's quarterly production report last month, a return to full production is expected no later than Q3 (fiscal year) 2010.