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they mine water in SA « Previous | |Next »
September 27, 2009

Despite the threats of climate change to Australia it is still business as usual. Resources are the key to Australia's prosperity. Australia is selling as much gas and coal and uranium as we can whilst paying lip service to the environment.

Excess.jpg Bill Leak

No where are the contradictions starker than in SA where the Rann Government is spruiking the long-term economic and social benefits of mining development.

BHP Billiton has been mining the Great Artesian Basin for years at no cost for the Olympic Dam copper and uranium mine at Roxby Downs.It plans to increase the amount of water it mines from the Basin as part of its proposal to turn Olympic Dam, in far-north South Australia, into the world's largest open-cut mine. The price BHP Billiton will pay for all this water is nothing.

The Rann Government's response is don't worry baby any concerns about the use of water will be addressed by BHP Billiton. The Rudd Government says that there s no indication that the use that's being made of groundwater by BHP is unsustainable. All three concentrate on the economic benefits and ignore and downplay the environmental costs.

For them it is acceptable that BHPBilliton expects to continue to extract water from the Great Artesian Basin AB for free.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 9:53 AM | | Comments (5)


Electricity use – including for off-site infrastructure – will increase dramatically in the expansion of Olympic Dam. Despite this, there are no firm commitments to sourcing a significant percentage of the site’s electricity needs from renewable energy. Its drawing on coal fired power electricity. No doubt t BHP Billiton will get special deals (free permits?) under the the Rudd Government's emission trading scheme.

Olympic Dam (OD) is already the single biggest user of electricity in the state (120 MW). BHP Billiton say they will need to find an extra 650 MW - and their current plan is to source it from the (mostly fossil fuel) SA electricity grid or a (fossil fuel) gas plant on-site. This will be more electricity than every single household in Adelaide combined.

In addition, the company will use about half a litre of diesel fuel for every tonne of rock they shift. That's over 1 million litres of diesel fuel a day. It will receive subsidies from the Rudd Government for the use of diesel.

I suppose the argument that S.A would be in pretty bad situation financially without mining is valid.

In addition to the nasties mentioned above.
Unconfirmed internet reports say that the desal plant that BHPB is going to build in the Gulf is a threat to marine species.
BHPB deny that.
Someone reported that a lot of the dust that was dumped on Sydney et al recently came from Olympic Dam and the tracks of the ubiquitous earth moving gear.
I presume BHPB will deny any reports of danger from radioactivity.
I've read somewhere that 40% of SAs greenhouse gas emission comes out of Roxby etc.
Seems a lot.
David Bradbury [sp?] has made film/tv docos about the nuke industry including Roxby and has claimed something along the lines that emissions from the sites are airborn over a great chunk of eastern Australia.

Its hard to verify these claims, they don't seem to get much attention or publicity, I dunno why.

I've worked for BHP.
Lovely company.
Great people.

And look at what is still happening with the Montara oil leak in W.A., if we could.

One of the worst spills in our history has happened with every sign that no emergency back up plan was in place. The media seem to have dropped it like a spud.