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BHP expands Olympic Dam underground operations into Southern Mine Area

Olympic Dam is set to produce first ore from the Southern Mine Area (SMA) of its underground operations at Roxby Downs.

Speaking today at the Copper to the World Conference in Adelaide, General Manager Mine Olympic Dam, Troy Wilson, said by financial year end (June 30), BHP would have invested around A$250 million developing the new mining blocks.

“We are being very selective in how we mine, which allows us to better target higher copper grade areas. This means we will increase the tonnes we mine over the coming years while importantly increasing the percentage copper in every tonne of dirt we move,” he said.

BHP began work on the underground expansion into the SMA in financial year 2015 and accelerated development 12 months ago with a dedicated team of around 180 people.

“At Olympic Dam we tend to see the SMA as an extension of our existing operations, but in reality the scale of development and investment in infrastructure and essential services like power, ventilation, telecommunications and facilities for each new mining block is equivalent to five new stand-alone underground mines,” he said.

Mr Wilson also highlighted the significant culture change that had driven a strong uplift in safety, productivity and cost reduction at Olympic Dam.

"In a global market like copper, this is incredibly important but equally important for BHP, so our shareholders have confidence to invest in the future of Olympic Dam and the future of South Australia.”

Through the SMA, infrastructure investment and the development of a long-term growth pathway, BHP will contribute to the delivery of the State’s Copper Strategy.

Olympic Dam is also finding better ways to partner with local suppliers and is focused on recruiting and retaining a diverse, talented and inclusive workforce.

“When our workforce represents the communities in which we operate, we will have the right mix for success and be able to demonstrate what Olympic Dam is truly capable of,” Mr Wilson said.

“We also want to gain a better understanding of the supply landscape and to make it easier for companies to work with us. To do this we are launching a new general expression of interest for construction services on the Industry Capability Network Gateway (ICN) next week.

“This is the first time BHP has used the ICN in South Australia and we encourage new and existing contractors to register their interest in providing these services to Olympic Dam.”

For more information, please see our News Release.