BHP declared in their operational review for the year ending June 30, 2017, that they will be investing $350 million to revamp their smelting operations at Olympic Dam. The Olympic Dam facility is situated 550km north west of Adelaide. BHP’s plans for upgrades to the Olympic Dam operation forms one part of their $600 million investment strategy to increase production, improve the facilities profitability, and provide long-term local employment opportunities.
The Olympic Dam Asset President, Jacqui McGill, believes the site has “the potential to support an increase in production to over 450,000 tonnes of copper a year.” This growth in production far outweighs the initial drop in production (of approximately 150,000 tonnes) during the upgrade process. The shutdown comes after a difficult year for BHP, with production at Olympic Dam having been impacted by the major power outages caused by storms at the beginning of the financial year.
Preparing for the Shutdown
Working a large deposit of not only copper but also uranium and gold, the upgrade and maintenance campaign will be BHP’s largest planned shutdown in South Australia. It will see the delivery of over 350 loads of materials to support it, as well as dismantling the old infrastructure. The large-scale project will have a large focus on safety while working on the growth of the Olympic Dam facility.
The shutdown, anticipated to run for more than 100 days, will require a team of contractors 1,300 strong working round the clock at the peak of the construction process. In that time, the contractors will be dismantling, rebuilding, and upgrading key components of the Olympic Dam facility, with attention being paid to:
• Rebuilding critical components of the existing smelter flash furnace;
• Demolishing the existing electric slag furnace and rebuilding it; and
• Replacing the electrostatic precipitator
Accommodating the Additional Contractors
A critical element of the project, ensuring the provision of suitable housing for a rolling team of contractors was a key component in the preparation of the shutdown. In order to assist in comfor
tably accommodating some of the contractors, a need arose for a portable camp close to the facility. Being placed on the nearby Roxby Downs racecourse, a fully equipped 65 room camp was provided. This portable camp consisted of:
• 45 ensuite rooms
• 20 non-ensuite rooms
• A commercial kitchen
• Dining and laundry facilities