South Australia blackout forces BHP to halt production

South Australia blackout forces BHP to halt production

A blackout across the whole of South Australia forced mining giant BHP Billiton to halt production at its Olympic Dam copper mine.

The state-wide power outage was the result of an extreme storm that hit on Wednesday. South Australia suffered one of the most extreme weather systems in decades with heavy rain and strong winds.

Considering the dangerous weather BHP decided to suspend activities at Australia’s biggest underground mine. The world’s largest miner is now focused on diverting power backup and maintaining essential operations at the site.

Olympic Dam produced 203,000 metric tons of copper in FY 2016, or 13% of company-wide output. Forecasts see an increase to around 230,000 tonnes in five years, with potential for up to 450,000 tonnes per year by around 2025.

According to Reuters, the power outage also halted operations at Oz Minerals’ Prominent Hill mine, which plans to produce up to 125,000 tonnes of copper in concentrate in 2016.

For the next couple of weeks, Nyrstar NV’s 185,000-tonnes-per-year Port Pirie lead smelter will also be out of action, the Zurich-based firm told the press.