Olympic Dam is a mining centre in South Australia located some 550 km NNW of Adelaide the capital city of South Australia. It is the site of an extremely large deposit of copper, uranium, gold and silver, which supports an underground mine as well as an integrated metallurgical processing plant. It is the largest known single deposit of uranium in the world, though uranium represents only a minority of the mine’s total revenue.
The deposit was discovered by Western Mining Corporation in 1975 and started production in 1987. It now belongs to BHP Billiton, which acquired WMC Resources in 2005. The mine currently operates by an underground mining method called |sublevel open stoping, using modern and highly productive mining equipment. The March 2005 mine production rate is an annualised 9.1 million tonnes making it one of Australia’s larger mines. 2005 metal production is thought to be in excess of 220,000 tonnes of copper, 4500 tonnes of uranium oxide, plus gold and silver. The copper and uranium oxide are exported through Port Adelaide. Most of the mine workers live in the nearby towns of Roxby Downs and Andamooka.
Further development is planned to take the mine production rate to some 40 million tonnes per year and 450,000 tonnes copper metal and 14,000 tonnes per year of uranium oxide. The decision to expand the production rate has not yet been made. An environmental impact statement (EIS) is currently in preparation for the proposed expansion.
Regular flights to Olympic Dam Airport service Olympic Dam.