Stop BHP Billiton's Olympic Dam mine expansion

Please send a submission opposing the plan to turn the Olympic Dam (Roxby Downs) mine in SA into the biggest uranium mine in the world.

Please send a submission opposing the plan to turn the Olympic Dam (Roxby Downs) mine in SA into the biggest uranium mine in the world. Please also forward this information and encourage others to make a submission.

If you don't have time to write a submission yourself, you can cut and paste the submission below and email it to the SA government.
<OlympicDamEIS@state.sa.gov.au>

Submissions are due on or before August 7, 2009.

More information on the mine expansion plan and the campaign to stop it is posted on the Friends of the Earth website <www.foe.org.au/anti-nuclear> or contact FoE's national nuclear campaigner Jim Green <jim.green@foe.org.au>, ph 0417 318368.

See also the information compiled by the Australian Conservation Foundation:
<www.acfonline.org.au/articles/news.asp?news_id=2324>

BHP Billiton's EIS is posted at <www.bhpbilliton.com/bb/odxEis.jsp>

If you are a BHP Billiton shareholder, please contact John Poppins from BHP Shareholders for Social Responsibility to support a resolution at the November 2009 Annual General Meeting calling on BHP Billiton to improve its environmental and social performance: email <bhpethical@green.net.au> , ph (03) 9807 1262, web www.bhpethical.shares.green.net.au.
 

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Submission on proposed expansion of the Olympic Dam mine

Email to: <OlympicDamEIS@state.sa.gov.au>

Postal address: Assessment Branch
Dept. of Planning and Local Govt
RE: Proposed Olympic Dam Expansion
GPO Box 1815, Adelaide SA 5001.

 
I oppose to the proposed expansion of the Olympic Dam mine for the following reasons:

FAILURE TO ASSESS NO-URANIUM OPTION:

* BHP Billiton has not been required to consider mining copper, silver and gold but not uranium - an option which would allow for ongoing, profitable mining while addressing some of the major problems (namely, high-level nuclear waste problems and nuclear weapons proliferation risks associated with uranium export).

THE ROXBY DOWNS INDENTURE ACT

* The Roxby Downs Indenture Act allows wide-ranging and totally indefensible exemptions from key laws such as the SA Aboriginal Heritage Act, Environmental Protection Act 1993, Freedom of Information Act 1991 and Natural Resources Act 2004. These exemptions should be repealed and if the expansion is to proceed, the exemptions should not be extended to cover the expansion.

NUCLEAR WEAPONS PROLIFERATION RISKS

* Export of uranium is expected to increase from an average of 4,000 tonnes per year to 19,000 tonnes. In power reactors, 19,000 tonnes of uranium produces enough plutonium to build 2,850 nuclear weapons. The total amount of uranium at Olympic Dam would produce enough plutonium to build over 340,000 nuclear weapons.

* The International Atomic Energy Agency has admitted that their rights of inspection are "fairly limited" and that it operates on a "shoe-string budget
comparable to a local police department".

* The mine expansion is heavily dependant on selling uranium and a uranium-infused copper concentrate to the secretive, repressive, militaristic, undemocratic
regime in China.

RADIOACTIVE RACISM

* The Roxby Downs Indenture Act provides overrides and exemptions from the SA Aboriginal Heritage Act 1988. BHP Billiton is in a legal position to determine
what consultation occurs with Traditional Owners, who is consulted, and nature of any consultation.

* BHP Billiton supports Reconciliation Australia's 'good governance' program and has provided over $2 million to Reconciliation Australia, yet the company will not relinquish its exemptions from the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1988. The company's position is hypocritical.

RADIOACTIVE WASTE

* Radioactive tailings wastes are exposed and open to the environment and currently amount to about 100 million tonnes.

* The production of tailings will increase seven-fold to 68 million tonnes annually. The tailings contain a toxic, acidic soup of radionuclides and heavy metals. There have been numerous spills and leaks and large numbers of bird deaths have been recorded in the vicinity of tailings dams.

* The problems with tailings have not been resolved. Photos taken by an Olympic Dam mine worker in December 2008 show radioactive tailings liquid leaking from the so-called rock 'armoury' of the so-called tailings 'retention' system. BHP Billiton's response was to threaten "disciplinary action" against any worker
taking photos of the mine site.

WASTING WATER

* BHP Billiton proposes an increase in water consumption from 37 million litres daily (from the Great Artesian Basin) to over 250 million litres daily (up to 42 million litres from the Great Artesian Basin, the remainder from a proposed desalination plant near Whyalla). That's over 100,000 litres every minute − in the driest state in the driest inhabited continent. The water take from the Great Artesian Basin has had adverse impacts on the precious Mound Springs and the desalination plant is also controversial.

* The Indenture Act allows BHP Billiton to extract massive and unsustainable amounts of water from the Great Artesian Basin for free despite the company's $17.7 billion profit in 2007-08.

ELECTRICITY CONSUMPTION & GREENHOUSE EMISSIONS

* The expansion will see the mine's electricity consumption increase over six-fold from 125MW to 775MW. BHP plans to source this from some combination of the state electricity grid, a proposed on-site gas-fired plant, and a proposed on-site plant powered by waste heat. There is no requirement for BHP Billiton to source any electricity for the mine site from renewable sources.

* Greenhouse emissions from the mine are projected to increase from 0.9−1.2 million tonnes annually to up to 5.9 million tonnes. This will make it all but impossible for SA to reach its legislated emissions target of 13 million tonnes annually by 2050.

* BHP Billiton promotes uranium as a fuel for low-carbon nuclear power but this is true only if compared to fossil fuels. Nuclear power is more greenhouse intensive than most renewable energy sources and most energy efficiency/conservation measures.