SA’s peak environmental body the Conservation Council of South Australia (CCSA), has criticised BHP-Billiton after the release of the Environmental Impact Statement for its Olympic Dam expansion. The special deals the company wants are unreasonable, unwarranted and will come at the expense of the natural environment.

The massive scale of the proposed expansion and the radioactive nature of the billions of tonnes of overburden and tailings that will be generated, mean SA must take action to avoid devastating environmental outcomes.

Under the terms of the Roxby Downs Indenture Ratification Act 1982, BHP-B is able to ignore and override legislation that would apply to any other mining operation.1
The current EIS looks likely to cement a worst case scenario of a toxic legacy left for future generations to deal with, long after BHP-B has taken the money and run.

“CCSA recognises the Olympic Dam expansion is big business” said spokesperson Jamnes Danenberg, “However this must not be at the expense of the natural environment or the detriment of ordinary Australians who will be subsidising the operation to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars.”

The expansion will see everyday tax payers directly subsidising the “Big Australian”.

The diesel fuel rebate will mean the projected two billion litres of diesel, subsidised at 18.5 c per litre, will give the company upwards of $370 million!

Taxpayer subsidies are also slated for the desalination plant that will provide extra water for mining operations – over and above the current 35 million litres a day already sourced for free from the Great Artesian Basin.

Further, miners in SA pay half the royalties of their interstate counterparts, denying the SA public the true value of our natural resources.

1 The Roxby Downs Indenture Ratification Act overrides the Environment Protection Act, the Natural Resources Management (NRM) Act, Development Act, Mining Act and the Aboriginal Heritage Act among others.

The answers to the questions of how and where BHP-B will ‘offset’ the impacts of its operations are also major concerns.

“CCSA believes that BHP-B must do everything in its power to reduce the environmental impacts of its operation, including the massive blowout to the state’s greenhouse gas emissions,” said Mr Danenberg.