land with shrubs

New use for wastewater in the desert

BHP has worked collaboratively with local stakeholders at our Olympic Dam operations in South Australia to deliver a wastewater transfer initiative with significant sustainability and community benefits.  

The Olympic Dam Village wastewater treatment plant was unable to support the new Olympic Dam South Village sewage load of up to 1,000 residents. Various solutions were evaluated to assess this gap and during this process an opportunity arose for the wastewater to be used by the Roxby Council for extra irrigation of the local golf course. This was considered cost-effective for BHP, while also providing positive sustainability and community outcomes.  

Under the wastewater transfer system, sewage from Olympic Dam South Village is collected and treated at the current Olympic Dam Village Wastewater Treatment Plant. Through collaboration between BHP Projects teams, the Roxby Council, Tonkin Consulting, and Traditional Owners, a pipeline was installed that the partially treated effluent is pumped through to the Roxby Downs Wastewater Treatment Plant where it undergoes final treatment. This water is then used by the Council for local greening and extra irrigation of the Roxby Downs Golf Course. This enables greater community wellbeing through supporting grassed recreation for the community in what is otherwise an arid and harsh environment. Investigations are underway to extend the supply of treated effluent to other community areas. 

Approximately 200-400 kilolitres of water a day is being sent for reuse, with over 130 megalitres transferred to the Council so far. It demonstrates that working with local stakeholders can achieve positive outcomes for all. The project was also Highly Commended in Consult Australia’s 2021 Awards for Excellence – Collaboration for Project Excellence.  

This approach to using wastewater has created an opportunity for continual collaboration between BHP and the Roxby Council, with a 20-year contract in place. BHP is working with the Roxby Council on further opportunities to supply wastewater, that have the potential for enhanced social and economic benefits whilst providing a remote town with a long-term sustainable water outcome during Olympic Dam Village’s operation.