South Australia mining plans axed
Thu, 23 Aug 2012 6:21p.m.
By Rachel Morton
Plans in South Australia for the world's biggest open cast mine have been axed.
The Olympic Dam mine, in the Outback, is rich in uranium, copper and gold.
But the decision not to expand operations is a major blow for jobs, and Kiwis hoping to work there as well.
A $30 billion expansion to BHP Billiton's Olympic Dam mine would have created 26,000 direct and indirect jobs, making it the world's largest mine.
There's no doubt the cancellation is a major disappointment to South Australia and to the nation.
And to New Zealand too, as BHP is one of several mining companies who've been recruiting across the ditch.
BHP blames higher costs and weak commodity prices. This week it posted a $14.8 billion profit, a 35 percent drop in earnings on the previous year.
"We've decided to study an alternative, a less capital-intensive design of the Olympic Dam open pit expansion," says chief executive Marius Kloppers.
Also being shelved are the Peak Downs coal mine in Central Queensland and Port Headland's outer harbour in Western Australia.
Leader of the Opposition Tony Abbott surrounded himself with his South Australian colleagues as he blamed the carbon and mining taxes.
"We're going to maximise the chances of this mining project going ahead by abolishing the carbon tax, abolishing the mining tax," says Mr Abbott.
But the mine was exempt from the mining tax, and BHP never cited the carbon tax a reason for shutting down the project.
Some analysts say this is the first real sign that the mining boom has reached its peak, as the coal industry continues to shed jobs and China's economy cools.
3 News contacted BHP Billiton to ask whether any New Zealanders who've been recruited by the firm will be affected, and we were told it's too early for them to say.
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