Underground rail project to support Olympic Dam expansion

With the ongoing expansion of the Olympic Dam mining operations into the Southern Mine Area (SMA), ICN South Australia is working with BHP to seek expressions of interest in a pre-feasibility study for a modern underground rail materials handling system to support underground growth.

Speaking at the Copper to the World Conference in Adelaide, General Manager Mine Olympic Dam, Troy Wilson, said BHP began work on the underground expansion into the SMA in financial year 2015, and accelerated development in 2016 with a dedicated team of around 180 people.

‘At Olympic Dam we tend to see the SMA as an extension of our existing operations, but in reality the scale of development and investment in infrastructure and essential services like power, ventilation, telecommunications and facilities for each new mining block is equivalent to five new stand-alone underground mines,’ he said.

He also said Olympic Dam wanted to partner with local suppliers and was focused on recruiting and retaining a diverse, talented and inclusive workforce.

‘When our workforce represents the communities in which we operate, we will have the right mix for success and be able to demonstrate what Olympic Dam is truly capable of.

‘We also want to gain a better understanding of the supply landscape and to make it easier for companies to work with us,’ he said

To this end, BHP launched an expression of interest for construction services on ICN Gateway last year, and a project portal for the Material Handling System (MHS) in late 2017.

‘We encourage new and existing contractors to keep an eye out for work packages associated with the MHS project,’ said ICN SA Manager Bettina Venner.

The proposed MHS project would extend the current underground materials handling system and is transitioning into ‘feasibility’ period.

The scope as it is currently defined in ‘pre-feasibility’ includes the following:

  • Underground mining (lateral and vertical development) for new rail drives, load stations and ore passes
  • New rail track network extension into the SMA
  • Grizzlies and remote operated rock breakers at the ore pass tip points
  • Supply of modern AC electrical locomotives and ore wagons, rail load stations and an integrated control system, with all associated services and utilities 
  • Upgrade to the existing Clark crushing and unloading station
  • Provision of associated:
    • Project management
    • Definition and detailed design required to deliver items in the scope
    • Temporary/enabling works (if required)
    • Fabrication and delivery of all equipment and materials 
    • Installation
    • Commissioning.

‘The indicative timeline shows the feasibility stage beginning in the second quarter of 2018, with a final investment decision made in 2019. Construction and commissioning will be staged from 2018 to 2023 and it is important to note that the project is currently transitioning into definition phase study and is subject to a number of approvals. This means that the scope descriptions, timelines and values are indicative only and subject to change,’ said Olympic Dam’s Head of Corporate Affairs, Emily Perry.

For more information, go to the project’s ICN Gateway page.