The Australian federal government has conditionally approved BHP Billiton’s environmental impact statement for the proposed Olympic Dam project in the state of South Australia.

The project will involve the development of a new open pit, copper, uranium and gold mine, with the potential to increase the copper production from 180,000tpa to 750,000tpa.

The conditional approval requires the firm to meet all the requirements of the project, including construction and operation of the desalination plant at Point Lowly.

To ensure that the project does not have an adverse impact on the marine environment of Spencer Gulf, the firm will undertake a range of monitoring measures.

BHP Billiton Uranium president Dean Dalla Valle said that the project is currently in the feasibility phase and its progression into execution is dependent on these approvals, the completion of all required studies and BHP Billiton board approval.