Olympic Dam Expansion Gets Environmental Approval

Discussion of the mining, milling, purification, and world quantities of uranium and thorium.
Cyril R
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Olympic Dam Expansion Gets Environmental Approval

Post by Cyril R » Dec 05, 2011 9:41 am

The Olympic Dam mine, which is actually a copper mine, with uranium as byproduct, has gotten environmental approval to expand its yearly uranium production by over 4x.

http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/ENF-O ... 10114.html

This is easily enough to power all of Australia's energy, not just electricity, everything (even if very inefficient electricity to synfuels are used for transport fuel), even when using an inefficient LWR to do it.

The uranium byproduct of a single copper mine can be used to power an entire modern country, even with the least efficient nuclear powerplants. I found that so amazing, I just wanted to share it.

David
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Re: Olympic Dam Expansion Gets Environmental Approval

Post by David » Dec 05, 2011 11:24 am

Wow, thanks for that Cyril. Over 19,000 tonnes of U a year for 40 years! That single mine will be almost double Canada's entire output and be about a third of current world U production (which obviously needs to increase now that the bombs to fuel program is winding down). That is enough for almost 100 GWe of inefficient LWRs or at least 500 DMSRs. I wonder what this represents for the copper market as well (which many are calling the new gold). Must be a veritable cash cow for the Aussie government.

David LeBlanc

David
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Re: Olympic Dam Expansion Gets Environmental Approval

Post by David » Dec 05, 2011 11:33 am

At current market prices (which of course the mine itself only gets a fraction) the new mine would be about 6 billion$ a year of copper (730,000 t/year) , 2 billion of U (19,000 t/year) and about 1.5 billion of gold (25 t/year). That would be about 5% of the world copper production. Throw in a little silver production and I'm sure they are over 10 billion a year of wealth generation.

David L.

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Lindsay
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Re: Olympic Dam Expansion Gets Environmental Approval

Post by Lindsay » Dec 05, 2011 10:41 pm

David wrote:At current market prices (which of course the mine itself only gets a fraction) the new mine would be about 6 billion$ a year of copper (730,000 t/year) , 2 billion of U (19,000 t/year) and about 1.5 billion of gold (25 t/year). That would be about 5% of the world copper production. Throw in a little silver production and I'm sure they are over 10 billion a year of wealth generation.

David L.
Nice work if you can get it!

Cyril R
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Re: Olympic Dam Expansion Gets Environmental Approval

Post by Cyril R » Dec 06, 2011 7:34 am

Thanks for running those encouraging numbers David. 10 billion a year must be a really sweet business. 500 GWe of DMSR is awesome, that's all of today's USA electricity demand. From the byproduct of a single copper mine.

That's equivalent to the electricity output of 900 Hoover Dams.

This really shows, nuclear power is extremely energy dense, and we haven't even scratched the uranium resource.

alexterrell
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Re: Olympic Dam Expansion Gets Environmental Approval

Post by alexterrell » Dec 06, 2011 10:17 am

Cyril R wrote:The Olympic Dam mine, which is actually a copper mine, with uranium as byproduct, has gotten environmental approval to expand its yearly uranium production by over 4x.

http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/ENF-O ... 10114.html

This is easily enough to power all of Australia's energy, not just electricity, everything (even if very inefficient electricity to synfuels are used for transport fuel), even when using an inefficient LWR to do it.

The uranium byproduct of a single copper mine can be used to power an entire modern country, even with the least efficient nuclear powerplants. I found that so amazing, I just wanted to share it.
Looking at the picture - that's going to be one big mine.
Some of the copper concentrate would be transported overseas through Darwin for smelting under International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards.
A few year ago they extended the railway from Alice to Darwin. I guess that's one more reason why the mine is now economic. Though it's only 200km from the southern coast.

Cyril R
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Re: Olympic Dam Expansion Gets Environmental Approval

Post by Cyril R » Dec 06, 2011 11:58 am

alexterrell wrote:Looking at the picture - that's going to be one big mine.
Certainly, the ore body alone looks well over 10 square kilometers in surface area. The hole that must be dug to get is will naturally be substantially bigger. Still that's pretty small compared to any other energy source. In the DMSR it would make as much electricity as 900 Hoover Dams, each of those has a resevoir bigger than the mine.
A few year ago they extended the railway from Alice to Darwin. I guess that's one more reason why the mine is now economic. Though it's only 200km from the southern coast.
Trust me, if you have a mine that can make 10 billion dollars in metals sales revenue per year, you can easily afford to build your own railway, just like multi billion dollar per year making nuclear powerparks can easily afford their own transmission lines.

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berfel
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Re: Olympic Dam Expansion Gets Environmental Approval

Post by berfel » Dec 06, 2011 12:03 pm

David wrote: Must be a veritable cash cow for the Aussie government.
David LeBlanc
That's what they're trying to do.

Australia is a Federation of sovereign States that own the minerals in the ground and are therefore entitled to reap royalties for whatever's extracted. The Constitution defines what the federal government can do; not what it can't do. It's a system that's worked well for half a century, bringing prosperity and economic resilience.

Now the feral government is hurling a spanner in the works trying to get around the Constitution limits to grab some of the cash; introducing a tax on mining profits - in addition to other taxes already in place.

Unfortunately, like almost everything else dreamed up by the feckless ones living on policy planet, in a galaxy far, far away; the tax hasn't been thought through and is likely to cost more to administer than what it reaps; especially if there's a downturn in the resources market and the mining companies offshore their profits.

The ferals don't like that; nor the threat that States will increase their royalties to offset losses due to the new tax. Sadly, nothing seems to be able to stop the feral government from implementing any laws that it can dream up; without regard to the public's wishes, expert advice or inevitable consequences. They are acting as though there won't ever be another election; that they won't be held to account.

David
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Re: Olympic Dam Expansion Gets Environmental Approval

Post by David » Dec 06, 2011 12:11 pm

Cyril R wrote:Thanks for running those encouraging numbers David. 10 billion a year must be a really sweet business. 500 GWe of DMSR is awesome, that's all of today's USA electricity demand. From the byproduct of a single copper mine.

That's equivalent to the electricity output of 900 Hoover Dams.

This really shows, nuclear power is extremely energy dense, and we haven't even scratched the uranium resource.
Not to lessen the point but I think you might have multiplied instead of divided. Hoover dam is just over 2GWe so 500 GWe of DMSRs is more like 240 Hoover dams. Still impressive and with some tweeking on the ORNL design we could push a DMSR down to 20 tonnes of uranium per GWe-year so about a 1000 GWe out of that single mine (isn't that all the coal plants in the world? Nice coincidence).

Hold on a minute, wow, your right Cyril. The Hoover dam has a max output of 2 GWe but only averages about 0.5 GWe (4 billion kwh/year). Gee, I thought it put out a lot more power than that. So 900 Hoover's it is then...

David LeBlanc

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Re: Olympic Dam Expansion Gets Environmental Approval

Post by EnergyUser » Dec 06, 2011 11:05 pm

That's a super-nova core fragment you are looking at there !

T. Wang

David
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Re: Olympic Dam Expansion Gets Environmental Approval

Post by David » Dec 07, 2011 8:43 am

Slight correction to what I wrote above. The story says 19,000 tonnes of uranium oxide which is about 16,000 tonnes Uranium per year (still amazing). I wonder though whether that includes the 4000 tonnes or so of current production from the underground mine? Anyone happen to know? Perhaps the underground mine will tail off once the open pit starts up?

David L.

Cyril R
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Re: Olympic Dam Expansion Gets Environmental Approval

Post by Cyril R » Dec 07, 2011 11:12 am

David wrote:Slight correction to what I wrote above. The story says 19,000 tonnes of uranium oxide which is about 16,000 tonnes Uranium per year (still amazing). I wonder though whether that includes the 4000 tonnes or so of current production from the underground mine? Anyone happen to know? Perhaps the underground mine will tail off once the open pit starts up?

David L.
The BHP Billiton website has more information on this:

http://www.bhpbilliton.com/home/aboutus ... essing.pdf

The 19000 tonnes U3O8 is combined operations. 4500 t from the underground mine, 14500 t from the open pit expansion. Some of the expansion comes from overseas though.

Combined copper production increases 3.2x
Combined uranium production increases 4.2x
Combined gold production increases 8x
Combined silver production increases 3.6x

That's some expansion.

Lars
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Re: Olympic Dam Expansion Gets Environmental Approval

Post by Lars » Apr 20, 2012 12:22 am

"Some of the copper concentrate would be transported overseas through Darwin for smelting under International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards."

Why would copper smelting need to be under IAEA safeguards? Is it because of the natural uranium content?


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