Government softens stance on Olympic Dam timing
Comments from South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill appear to indicate a softening of the state government’s stance that BHP Billiton commits to an expansion of the giant mine by December 15.
The detailed indenture agreement setting the royalties and environmental approvals for the Olympic Dam expansion is set to expire on December 15.
Up till now, South Australian ministers, including Mineral Resources Minister Tom Koutsantonis, have struck a hard line on suggestions that BHP Billiton might delay a decision on the go-ahead due to global economic uncertainties.
Koutsantonis told the Australian newspaper in May that he was not inclined to grant an extension to the Olympic Dam approvals process.
“Commodity prices have not fallen through the floor, copper prices are relatively stable. There is nothing to say this project should be delayed. I’ll consider any request by BHP (for an extension) but I am not inclined to give it.
“There would need to be a major change in conditions and thus far I have not seen it.”
However, in comments to the Australian Financial Review yesterday, South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill appeared to be softening the government’s stance.
He said, “Our preference is the decision is made within the 12-month period and we communicate that very clearly to BHP. We’ll obviously entertain any application that is made (to extend that).
“We’re conscious BHP have a range of significant considerations to take into account in deciding to proceed with a project of this size. It’s not surprising time would be necessary to make this decision.”