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The tragedy for companies like Western Mining Corporation is that they could never access the funding needed to commercialise the discovery they made, and thus became prey for vultures (See An Olympic victory for BHP, May 16).
I hope they have done their sums right. A one kilometre deep pit, even in outback SA, can quickly drain aquifers that supply water over large areas (See An Olympic victory for BHP, May 16). We are witnessing similar issues in NSW, where coal mines develop major water problems (a nuisance) because they disturb the underground systems. The result is that ground water disappears in a hurry.
Robert notes that, "Ore from the underground mine is converted to copper metal and there was great pressure on BHP to do the same with open pit ore. BHP has opted for a copper concentrate that includes uranium, gold and silver, which will be railed up through Alice Springs to Darwin." (See An Olympic victory for BHP, May 16)
A global evaluation of CO2 emissions would show that the smelting and refining of copper concentrates to metal at the mine is a more attractive option. Exported to China, the concentrates will be converted to metal using power produced from coal, also exported from Australia. The Chinese processing facility is unlikely to be as efficient as would be the case in Australia with our higher wage costs and greater regulation.
At some stage it will be necessary for Australia to pursue the old RFX Connor vision of a gas pipeline network linking the north west shelf to the east coast network. The Olympic Dam project could provide the gas off-take for power generation needed by an expanded smelter/ refinery to justify development of the pipeline now.
The nonsense of a carbon tax that forces BHP to minimise local processing and results in even greater CO2 emissions from China with less capital spent at home, fewer jobs established, and less opportunity to decentralise our growing population away from the east coast is mind boggling. Come on Tony, keep poking them. We need an election now!
BHP is taking up to 42 million litres a day from the Great Artesian Basin, and is entitled to continue doing so for another 40 years (See An Olympic victory for BHP, May 16).
This is unsustainable, and is draining and depleting the GAB. If BHP (a private company) can afford to build its own desalination plant, then the approval of this mine expansion should be conditional upon BHP relinquishing their free 'take' from the GAB – which is a priceless irreplaceable finite resource, and belongs to all of Australia.
BHP intend to keep sucking the GAB dry, even after they have built the desalination plant (which will be more than sufficient for their needs). This draining of our precious resource of water is so wrong, and must be stopped.
Thanks Robert, informative stuff! (See An Olympic victory for BHP, May 16.) Nothing wrong being "the world's quarry" (providing environmental requirements are met or exceeded). Do what we are good at! And be
grateful for jobs and wealth that result. We will never be able to compete with Asian low-wage manufacturing countries... will we? Or maybe I am just being simplistic?