BHP to invest $276.69m in Australia’s Olympic Dam smelter operations


BHP Billiton is set to invest A$350m ($276.69m) towards a maintenance programme at its Olympic Dam smelter operations in South Australia.

Operations at the plant were suspended last year following a power outage.

Olympic Dam asset president Jacqui McGill said: “There will be 1,300 contractors at Olympic Dam during the peak of construction as teams work around the clock to dismantle, rebuild and upgrade integral components of the facility.”

Works at the plant include rebuilding key elements of the smelter flash furnace, electric slag furnace and the five-storey high-electrostatic precipitator.

During the downtime, the company will perform maintenance work on other plant assets.

“There will be 1,300 contractors at Olympic Dam during the peak of construction as teams work around the clock to dismantle, rebuild and upgrade integral components of the facility.”

Work to remove old on-site infrastructure is currently underway.

In its operational review for the financial year ending 30 June, the company reported an overall decline of 16% in the copper production in comparison with the previous financial year.

The decrease in output was attributed to different factors including the power outage at Olympic Dam during September and October and unplanned maintenance at the refinery in December last year.

Meanwhile, BHP stated that Olympic Dam copper production in 2017 financial year fell by 18% to 166kt, with a further reduction to 150kt expected this year after the maintenance campaign scheduled between next month and November.

Once the smelter maintenance campaign is complete, copper production will be scaled up to around 215kt in the 2019 financial year, with plans to increase further to 280kt in the 2022 financial year.