The proposed Olympic Dam expansion has come under scrutiny not just by the mining industry but also environmentalists.
In the latest report for the Greens, Monash University lecturer Gavin Mudd says that the mine expansion could be viable even without mining uranium.
The Greens want the State and Federal governments to force BHP Billiton to consider the ‘no uranium mining’ option. They claim that it would use less water and energy if BHP Billiton were to develop the expansion without mining uranium.
The Australian Greens say that since the Olympic Dam project is predominantly a copper and silver mine it would be a simple matter for BHP Billiton to forego the uranium mining at the mine and still be profitable.
The share of uranium revenue generated falls to less than 20% over time and the Greens argue that the report explodes the myth that uranium was central to the Olympic Dam project. They feel that the alternative model for the project would be safer, use less water and energy and increase jobs in the area not affecting the economic returns for the local community.