Olympic dam mine, SA

BHP Billiton may delay a decision on the proposed $30bn expansion of the Olympic Dam mine in South Australia, according to local reports.

The news follows a decision by BHP in May to scrap an $80bn capital spending plan over five years due to uncertain global economic conditions.

According to company documents obtained by The Australian newspaper, a decision regarding the proposed expansion of the copper and uranium mine will not be made until 2014.

The document states that the ‘expansion decision has been put on hold for two years’.

A BHP spokeswoman was quoted by the newspaper as saying, "We will approve projects in a sequence that maximises value, reduces risk and balances the consideration of short and long-term returns."

The company will need to renegotiate state government approvals if a decision is not forthcoming by December 2012.

South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill said, "We anticipate, as we have all along, that they’ll make a decision before the end of the year."

Long-term expansions in countries such as Australia, Canada and China are also put on hold due to decreasing commodity prices and rising costs.

Image: Olympic Dam Cu-U-Au-Ag mine in South Australia featuring main shafts. Photo:Geomartin