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BHP Billiton announced today approval for US$1.2 billion in pre-commitment capital for the first phase of the Olympic Dam Project to develop an open pit mine in South Australia.

The funding will facilitate the procurement of long lead items such as trucks and accommodation, infrastructure development and early site works for the first phase of the Olympic Dam Project.

The majority of the pre-commitment capital is conditional on the successful passage of the Indenture agreement through the South Australian Parliament.

The first phase of the Olympic Dam Project is currently in feasibility and its progression into execution remains dependant on the completion of all required studies and Board approval, which is likely to be sought by mid next calendar year.

BHP Billiton Chief Executive Officer, Marius Kloppers, said: “The pre-commitment funding is another important milestone in the development of this world class ore-body.

“Given the quality of this resource, the Olympic Dam Project team is completing studies to create one of the world’s largest open pit mines with the potential to increase copper production from around 180,000 tonnes per annum to 750,000 tonnes per annum and beyond.”

On 10 October BHP Billiton received environmental approvals for the project from the Government of South Australia and the Commonwealth following assessment of its draft and supplementary Environmental Impact Statements.

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