Two Australian mining companies Rex Minerals and BHP Billiton have been green lit by the State Government to begin extraction from what is believed to be Australia’s biggest ever unexploited Copper deposit. It is estimated to hold approximately $1 trillion worth of extractable Copper at Hillside on the Yorke Peninsula approximately one hour North-West of Adelaide, South Australia.
Rex Minerals made a statement on Tuesday that it had received a formal offer for mineral tenements for its $919m Hillside copper project. Simultaneously, BHP Billiton announced that they are in the testing stages of a new and cheaper Copper extraction technique called ‘Heap Leaching’ at its huge Olympic Dam site also in South Australia. BHP hopes they will win over the Hillside government mining and extraction tenements against Rex Minerals with a demonstration plant, showcasing how cheap and efficient their new ‘Heap Leaching’ process really is.
South Australia’s state treasurer, Tom Koutsantonis, commented that the mining leases hinged on a collection of conditions mainly to do with striking a balance between environmental, community and economic costs and benefits to the area. Many local farmers and residents in the Hillside area have expressed alarm that the massive Copper extraction project poses a real threat to water-table contamination affecting irrigation, wind-blown dust smothering crops and affecting air quality, as well as radiation problems. However, both Rex Mineral and BHP are in the process of consulting geo-scientists and local community members to devise a viable environmental feasibility study that meets both the environmental and economic priorities of the area.
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Zenn B.//SMC Editor