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Media Release
Senator the Hon Robert Hill
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister for the Environment


8 December 1997

Federal Environment Minister Robert Hill has given environmental clearance to the proposed expansion of the Olympic Dam copper, uranium, gold and silver mine in the north of South Australia.

Senator Hill says stringent conditions have been recommended to ensure the highest environmental standards are met in relation to the operation of the expanded mining operation.

The decision relates to any increase in production up to 200 000 tonnes of copper, plus associated products, per year. The present annual level of production is approximately 85 000 tonnes of copper, plus associated products.

Senator Hill has advised the Federal Minister for Resources and Energy, Senator Parer, that on the available evidence the proposed expansion is considered to be environmentally acceptable provided the mine continues to operate under stringent environment controls. It is recommended the existing controls be augmented by additional conditions relating to management of the Great Artesian Basin water resource, future assessment of the tailings management system and impacts of future changes to technology and mining practices at the mine.

The WMC estimates the expansion of the project to 200 000 tonnes of copper annually would support 1 100 direct jobs in the operational phase and add $115 million to the State economy. Annual royalty payments to the South Australian Government are expected to increase by $12 million. The construction phase alone is predicted to provide up to 5 500 new jobs in Australia over two and a half years.

The environmental assessment, which also included economic and social assessment, was conducted jointly with SA government environment assessment authorities. The Commonwealth and SA authorities have ensured an efficient, rigorous and transparent assessment of potential environmental impacts.

Consistent with the government's commitment to promoting community involvement in environmental matters, Senator Hill has also recommended that arrangements for the Community Consultative Forum be finalised as a high priority so community organisations can be fully informed about environmental issues relating to Olympic Dam and can provide, as appropriate, input on environmental management issues.

The documentation is available from Environment Australia on 1800 803 772.

Contact :
Atticus Fleming (Senator Hill's office) 02 6277 7640
8 December 1997

Commonwealth of Australia