BHP invests $277 million for Olympic Dam smelter upgrade

BHP invests $277 million for Olympic Dam smelter upgrade

BHP (ASX:BHP) is investing US$270 million in its Olympic Dam smelter operations in South Australia to bolster copper production.

Copper production at Olympic Dam fell 18% to 166,000t for the financial year ending June 2017 due to a state-wide power outage during in Autumn 2016 and unplanned maintenance in December 2016 and January 2017.

The forecast for 2018 expects copper production of 150,000t, with the smelter enhancement programme planned for August to November 2017.

Olympic Dam asset president Jacqui McGill said the smelter maintenance campaign was the largest planned shutdown by BHP in the South Australia.

“There will be 1,300 contractors at Olympic Dam during the peak of construction as teams work around the clock to dismantle, rebuild and upgrade integral components of the facility.

“Work is underway on site with teams preparing to dismantle old infrastructure and starting to take delivery of more than 350 material loads to support the project,” McGill said.

The upgrade programme involves rebuilding key elements of the smelter flash furnace, demolishing and rebuilding a new electric slag furnace and removing and replacing the five-storey high electro static precipitator.

“The rolling shutdown across the surface operations starts in August with the maintenance campaign running for more than 100 days in total,” McGill added.

“As always, the safety of our people and our contractors is paramount as we focus on this demanding and complex project which will help underpin stability and growth at Olympic Dam for many years to come.”