19 – Mining and the Lake Eyre Basin environment 183 extract the copper to be purified in a chemical refinery. Commercial operations started in October 2007, at the height of the mining boom. By late 2008, global metals prices had crashed, due to the evolving global financial crisis, and the project became uneconomic, followed by bankruptcy placement for the operating company (CopperCo). Unfortunately, cumulative rainfall was high in early 2009, producing considerable local flooding onsite. This eventually caused a structural failure of the solution ponds, sending highly acidic and metal-rich solutions into Saga and Inca Creeks, part of the headwaters for the Buckley River, one of the Lake Eyre Basin’s major western river systems. 0 2000 4000 6000 8000 10 000 12 000 14 000 1985 1990 1995 2000 2005 2010 Vo lume 0 0.5 1 1.5 2 2.5 3 3.5 1985 1990 1995 2000 2005 2010 Intensity (a) (b) Fig. 19.7. (a) Annual water consumption (ML/year, blue line), energy use (TJ/year, green line) and greenhouse gas emissions (kt CO 2 /year, dashed red line) for Olympic Dam (1985–2013 gaps due to lack of reporting) (b) water consumption (kL/t of ore, blue line), energy use (GJ/t of ore, green line) and greenhouse gas emissions (t CO 2 /t of ore, dashed red line) (data updated from Mudd 2014).
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