BHP Olympic Dam decision shows boom is over -- Minister

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 23 August, 2012, 9:17am
UPDATED : Thursday, 23 August, 2012, 12:10pm

Australia’s Resources and Energy Minister Martin Ferguson said on Thursday the resources boom, which had cushioned Australia against the global financial crisis, was over after top global miner BHP Billiton halted expansion of a major project.

“The resources boom is over,” Ferguson told Australian radio. “We’ve done well -- A$270 billion in investment, the envy of the world. It has got tougher in the last six to twelve months.”

Ferguson’s comments came after BHP announced on Wednesday it would halt the planned US$20 billion Olympic Dam copper expansion in South Australia state.

Fuelled by Chinese-led demand for its coal, iron ore and other resources, Australia’s economy was one of the very few in the developed world to sail through the global financial crisis without sliding into recession.

BHP said it had shelved the Olympic Dam expansion as it reported a 35 per cent slide in second-half profit, the biggest sign of the pain inflicted by the slowdown in China’s economic growth. 

“The next round was always going to be difficult and I must say Olympic Dam was always a very, very challenging project -- its sheer size,” Ferguson said.

He said he still hoped the project could go ahead.

“Our requirement now is to continue to work together in partnership, South Australian and Australian governments, with BHP Billiton to actually get this project in place,” he said.