The planned shutdown was the largest BHP has undertaken in South Australia. Image: BHP.
BY CAMERON DRUMMOND
BHP has announced a $350 million investment to upgrade its Olympic Dam copper smelting operation.
Olympic Dam asset president Jacqui McGill said the smelter maintenance campaign was the largest planned shutdown by BHP in South Australia.
The smelter campaign involves a combined investment in three key areas; a rebuild of the smelter flash furnace, demolition and construction of a new electric slag furnace; and the removal and replacement of the five-story high electro static precipitator.
BHP said it would also use the planned downtime to undertake further refinery asset maintenance.
“There will be 1300 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,” Ms McGill said.
“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.
“The rolling shutdown across the surface operations starts in August with the maintenance campaign running for more than 100 days in total.
“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.”
BHP said the improved operational performance would underpin an expected increase in copper production to about 215,000t in the 2019 financial year.
This would provide a stable base for the potential to increase capacity to 280,000t in the 2022 financial year.