The Anglo-Australian miner BHP Billiton has scrapped plans to build the world’s biggest open-pit copper and uranium mine amid fears about the impact of the slowing global economy on demand for resources.
It said falling commodity prices meant it no longer made economic sense.
Slumping demand in China, the world’s biggest consumer of metals, has led to a 25% drop in the copper price over the last 18 months.
The Olympic Dam “mega-project” would have transformed the mine 350 miles north of Adelaide into a massive open pit capable of producing 750,000 tonnes of copper and 19,000 tonnes of uranium a year.
But CEO Marius Kloppers said falling commodities prices meant BHP was being forced to “live within our means”.
“This is about capex (capital expenditure) escalation. This is an escalation driven by a tight labour market, a tight supplier market, a high exchange rate and high diesel prices, which has made a concept that we thought would work, unviable.”