BHP Billiton has confirmed that it will not seek a further extension to the variation deed of an agreement for Olympic Dam mine in South Australia.

In October 2011, the indenture was signed between the company and the state of South Australia to accommodate an open-pit development at the mine. 

During that time, the South Australian and Commonwealth governments announced to formally approve the environmental impact statement for the Olympic Dam project, which was aimed at developing a new open-pit copper, uranium and gold mine.

BHP said that the state agreement governs the operation of Olympic Dam operation. 

As outlined in December last year, BHP is currently pursuing an underground development pathway for Olympic Dam, which is expected to see an increase in copper production to 450ktpa from 2025.

The pathway is subject to approvals and a suitable investment environment.

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In this regard, the company will not submit a project notice for the open-pit development so the variation deed will not have effect in October this year.

"In FY16, Olympic Dam achieved the highest production in ten years."

Olympic Dam was operated by BHP under the original indenture and the company said this would continue.

Olympic Dam asset president Jacqui McGill said: “In FY16, Olympic Dam achieved the highest production in ten years. The whole team has done an amazing job working together to deliver this result.

“Our development teams in the mine are currently progressing with an expansion into the southern mine area to deliver higher grade ore.

“We have a strong productive relationship with the South Australian Government, and we look forward to working with the government on matters of mutual benefit, including for example any need for future amendments to the indenture, which may be required.”

Image: Main shafts of Olympic Dam Cu-U-Au-Ag mine in South Australia. Photo: courtesy of Geomartin.