South Australia’s mineral resources and energy minister, Tom Koutsantonis, said he was confident BHP Billiton will proceed with developing the uranium Olympic Dam open-pit mine, despite the project will cost billions of dollars, reports Reuters.
The world's biggest miner already operates an underground mine at the site, which holds the world's largest known deposit of uranium. However the budget for the open pit mine has yet to be granted, even though the company announced in October the approval of US$1.2 billion in pre-commitment capital for the first phase of the project.
"My view is we will get a decision from BHP around July or August," Koutsantonis told Reuters at PDAC, the mining industry's largest annual gathering that started in Toronto on Sunday.
The Olympic Dam plant and mine located in South Australia about 560 km northwest of Adelaide.
WMC Resources discovered the deposit in 1975 and opened the mine in 1988, which was later acquired by BHP in 2005.
This is the world's the largest uranium deposit, the fourth-largest copper deposit and the fifth largest gold deposit. It also contains significant quantities of silver.