Olympic Dam (Australia)

Map of Olympic Dam

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The Olympic Dam copper and uranium mine, with the town of Roxby Downs, is located 560 km north of Adelaide, near the opal mining centre of Andamooka. This is an arid part of Australia, receiving only an average of only 160 mm of rain per year, and that rather unreliably. The massive deposit is underground, some 350 metres below the surface, and is the largest known uranium orebody in the world.

The deposit was discovered in 1975 by Western Mining Corporation Ltd which was looking for copper in buried sedimentary rocks. the resource consists of more than 2000 million tonnes of ore containing both copper and uranium. From 1979 the deposit was developed as a Joint Venture with British Petroleum Ltd. In 1985 it was decided to proceed with the project, and production commenced in 1988.

About 20% of the mine's revenue is from uranium, 75% from copper and 5% gold and silver. Olympic Dam is an underground mine. Some 3 million tonnes of ore were mined each year by open stoping, and this increased to 9.2 Mt in 1999.

In 1999-2000 the plant produced 4089 tonnes of uranium oxide concentrate (4044 tonnes of U3O8), but the production rate rose by one third from this figure in the third quarter of 2000. Uranium recovery is about 70%.

WMC (Olympic Dam Operations) Pty Ltd is the management company, a subsidiary of WMC Limited.
In mid 1996 WMC announced a A$ 1250 million program to more than double annual production by 2001, to 200,000 tonnes copper and 3700 tonnes uranium concentrate. This expansion program was then accelerated, bringing the increased capacity on line in 1999, with the cost eventually rising to A$ 1.94 billion and the uranium capacity to 4600 tonnes U3O8 per year. In October 2000 plans were announced for a A$ 100 million program to expand production further to 5600 t/yr.

Facilities in Olympic Dam

plantreactor typconstruction startoperation startshut down
Olympic DamUranium mine