October 21, 2009 / 2:20 AM / 10 years ago

FACTBOX-BHP Billiton's huge Olympic Dam mine

Oct 21 (Reuters) - Key facts about BHP Billiton’s (BHP.AX) BLT.L Olympic Dam mine in southern Australia, which will not return to full capacity until the March quarter of 2010 after its main shaft was damaged following the derailing of a hauling system.

For a full story, click on [ID:nSYD244674].

For a graphic on Olypic Dam output, click: here

SIZE, LOCATION

* Olympic Dam is the world’s fourth-largest copper deposit, the largest known uranium deposit and the fifth-largest gold deposit.

* Olympic Dam produced 194,000 tonnes of copper and 4,000 tonnes of uranium in the year ended June 30, 2009.

* Located 560 km (348 miles) north of the south Australian city of Adelaide, it is Australia’s largest underground mine.

* The site comprises ore zones spread over several square km and ranging in depth from 350 metres to 1 km.

PRODUCTION PROCESS

* Copper concentrate produced from the mine is fed to a smelter at the site that produces blister copper before being further refined into copper cathodes. The slimes from this process are treated separately to recover gold and silver.

EXPANSION PLAN

* BHP plans to expand the mine progressively over 11 years. The expansion project is still awaiting government approvals and a final investment decision.

* Expansion would take annual production levels to:

Total after Existing

expansion capacity

Refine copper (tonnes) 750,000 235,000

Uranium oxide (tonnes) 19,000 4,500

Gold (ounces) 800,000 100,000

MARKETS

* Olympic Dam’s copper is sold to customers in Europe, Australia and Asia under contracts negotiated annually with pricing based on the LME cash settlement price.

* Olympic Dam has long-term contracts for the sale of uranium oxide concentrates to customers in Britain, France, Sweden, Finland, Belgium, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Canada, the United States and Spain.

* Gold and silver from the mine are sold to the Perth Mint, Australia. Source: BHP Billiton Web site www.bhpbilliton.com (Reporting by Mark Bendeich and James Regan; editing by Jonathan Standing)

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