BHP hoping to mould new copper province in South Australia

10th May 2023 By: Esmarie Iannucci - Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor: Australasia

PERTH ( – Mining major BHP on Wednesday said that the company was focusing on options to build a copper province in South Australia, following its A$9.6-billion takeover of copper miner Oz Minerals.

BHP COO Edgar Basto told the Austmine Conference that the company’s current focus was on delivering safe and reliable operations at Olympic Dam, Prominent Hill and Carrapateena, and on integrating the BHP and Oz Minerals businesses with a focus on people and culture. 

“We have three existing mines that are attractive in their own right, but if we start to look at them together, we see the longer-term opportunities and potential synergies to build a copper province that could put South Australia on the global copper map. 

“The integration of these new assets into BHP is part of my portfolio and I spent a lot of my time last week at those sites meeting with the teams there,” Basto said.

Globally, BHP has the largest copper endowment of any company, based on ownership interest, he added, and in South Australia, the miner owns Olympic Dam, which is one of the world’s most significant deposits of copper, gold, silver and uranium. 

“In March, we received environmental approval for our next phase of exploration at Oak Dam, which is around 65 km southeast of Olympic Dam. 

“Oak Dam is an exciting prospect and potential growth option. We’re undertaking further exploration to better define the resource and inform our future planning.

"Anyone who is familiar with the geography of the Gawler Craton will at once see the opportunity that all of this presents,” Basto said.

Basto told delegates on Wednesday that the mining giant continued to support work on the Northern Water Supply Project, seeing it as important to its future success. 

“We have in front of us the opportunity to create a new copper province for South Australia that is globally first class. It can bring new jobs, new skills, local business opportunities and economic growth for this state.

“But it will require us all to step up. This is a global competition,” he added. 

“As global demand for copper increases, global competition for investment, to meet that demand is also heating up. We are seeing this in places like the US and Canada, which have brought in new policies and strategies to attract major investment in critical minerals.

“Here and now, we are facing the battles of inflation and pressures on global supply chains – fuel costs, shipping costs, labour costs. Every copper producer globally is facing these same challenges. Here in Australia, we will have to fight harder. South Australia is well placed . . . and is match fit,” Basto said.

He told delegates that at both state and federal level, government and the industry needed to work together so the policy choices and investments made would support Australia’s prosperity, and importantly, support South Australia to compete in the global marketplace.