Unveiling BHP's Copper Discoveries: Oak Dam Exploration
BHP's exploration program at its Oak Dam copper deposit has uncovered significant high-grade copper reserves located deep beneath the Olympic Dam ore body, with some grades surpassing two percent.
Situated 65km southeast of the Olympic Dam mine in South Australia, the Oak Dam deposit adds to the region's rich resources, which include copper, gold, and uranium.
Following the completion of its acquisition of OZ Minerals in May last year, BHP consolidated its presence in South Australia's far north, integrating the Prominent Hill and Carrapateena mines with the Olympic Dam mine, smelter, refinery, and Oak Dam deposit into a cohesive copper province.
Anna Wiley, BHP's asset president for copper in South Australia, emphasized the strategic importance of this integration in enhancing the economic and sustainable production and processing of copper for global markets.
Progress continues at Oak Dam, with 12 drilling rigs currently active on-site, having completed 150 kilometers of drilling. Additionally, infrastructure including a core processing facility and a 150-person accommodation camp are nearing completion. Exploration efforts extend to the Olympic Dam Deeps, situated beneath the known Olympic Dam deposit.
In parallel with exploration activities, BHP is evaluating options for a new two-stage smelter at Olympic Dam, potentially doubling its capacity to 1–1.7 million tonnes and boosting copper production to approximately 500,000 tonnes per annum.
The South Australian Government, having approved the Oak Dam exploration program, welcomes the discovery as a significant development aligned with the state's prosperity goals. Premier Peter Malinauskas highlighted the potential for job creation and economic growth, emphasizing the importance of water availability for resource extraction and refinement.
BHP's CEO, Mike Henry, shared updates on the potential two-stage smelter at Oak Dam during the BMO Global Metals, Mining, and Critical Minerals Conference. A final investment decision for the smelter is anticipated between the 2025–26 and 2026–27 financial years.