On May 1, BHP Billiton released the Environmental Impact Statement for its planned expansion of the Olympic Dam (Roxby Downs) uranium/copper mine in SA. A May Day protest was held to voice many members of the publics opposition to the mine and its expansion.
At 2.00pm a mock BHP executive launched the EIS complete with details of everything the company plans to get away with:
· The mine operates under the SA Roxby Downs Indenture Act which exempts it from key environmental and Aboriginal heritage laws that apply everywhere else in SA.
· BHP Billiton plans to make Roxby the largest open-cut mine in the world. Export of uranium is expected to increase from an average of 4,000 tonnes per year to 19,000 tonnes. Enough plutonium to build 2,850 nuclear weapons each year.
· BHP Billiton proposes an increase in water consumption from 35 million litres daily (from the Great Artesian Basin) to 150 million litres daily (up to 42 million litres from the Great Artesian Basin, the remainder from a proposed desalination plant at Port Bonython). The total amounts to over 100,000 litres of water every minute of every day.
· The production of radioactive tailings, stored above ground, will increase seven-fold to 70 million tonnes annually. The tailings contain a toxic, acidic soup of radionuclides and heavy metals.
· Electricity demand for the mine will increase from 120 megawatts to 690 megawatts – equivalent to 42% of South Australia’s current total electricity consumption.