BHP Billiton commits to $1.2bn capital for mine

City A.M. Reporter
BHP BILLITON yesterday approved $1.2bn (£761m) in pre-commitment capital to start expansion work on its Olympic Dam copper and uranium mine, which analysts say could nearly cost 30 times this sum to develop fully.

The funds will be used to buy trucks, build worker housing and for other items requiring lengthy lead times, it said.

BHP said it will not make a final decision to go ahead until mid-2012, after it weighs up the 150 environmental conditions imposed on the project by the national and South Australia state governments this week.

“The Olympic Dam project team is completing studies to create one of the world’s largest open pit mines, with the potential to increase copper production from around 180,000 tonnes per annum to 750,000 tonnes per annum and beyond,” BHP chief executive Marius Kloppers said in a statement.