BHP Billiton’s uranium rush to grab South Australia

BHP Steps Up Its Olympic Ambitions, WSJ,   By Stephen Bell, April 24, 2012,  BHP Billiton is a fully paid-up believer in the mining theory of ‘nearology’ if its latest Australian land grab is anything to go by. The Anglo-Australian miner has tabled applications for exploration licenses covering more than 10,000 square kilometers in arid regions surrounding the huge Olympic Dam copper-gold–uranium mine  in South Australia state……

BHP is expected to make a decision this year on whether to proceed with an expansion at Olympic Dam, a project analysts estimate could cost close to US$30 billion.

In the meantime, the world’s biggest mining company by market value
has been busy shoring up its land position around the project and
further afield in the South Australian desert.

Monday, mineral prospector Minotaur Exploration said it has reached an
agreement to sell five exploration tenements near Olympic Dam to BHP
for 10 million Australian dollars (US$10.3 million).

In addition, since the start of this year BHP has quietly been
applying for new exploration licenses to the east and south of the
mine, including areas in the Woomera, Marree, Leigh Creek and Port
August regions.
Together the applications amount to 10,590 square kilometers,
according to South Australian Government records….. South Australia
has attracted increased interest from major mining companies in recent
times as they eye new deposits with similar qualities to Olympic Dam.
The recent interest comes despite weaker metal prices and worries that
China’s demand growth for commodities is tapering off.

BHP has for many years been working on plans to develop an open-pit
mine alongside existing underground operations at Olympic Dam to
increase production of copper and uranium sharply over the next three

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