BHP scraps plans to dominate Olympic Dam area

BHP Billiton (ASX:BHP) has scrapped plans to purchase exploratory land in the area adjacent to the Olympic Dam project.

Tasman Resources (ASX:TAS), the prospective seller of the land, announced the termination of the sale yet did not provide detailed reasons for its annulment.

BHP and other stalwarts of the Australian mining scene have been cancelling projects and cutting costs in a semi-frenzy of late, following declines in commodities prices and gains in operating costs.

BHP ditched the USD$20 billion Olympic Dam expansion in August, and just earlier this week shut its Gregory Crinum coal mine in Queensland and axed 300 jobs.

Mining Australia reports that BHP had executed a number of deals earlier in this year for exploration tenements around Olympic Dam in what was interpreted by many as a bid to obtain "dominant control" of the area.

The Australian meanwhile reports that Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO) could well fill the vacuum left by its arch-rival's withdrawal, and has already teamed up with Tasman Resources in a joint venture at the Vulcan Prospect just 30km north of the Olympic Dam site.