Mining and Heavy Industries

SA industry coming back online after power outage

South Australia’s major mining and manufacturing businesses are working with the government and energy sector to get back to full operations after the state’s power was cut during extreme weather events last week.

Steel manufacturer Arrium and BHP mining operation Olympic Dam were among the major energy consumers hit by the power outage, after transmission lines were damaged during heavy winds on Wednesday, September 28.

Questions were raised over the impact of the outage to the potential sale of Arrium’s Whyalla steelworks by its administrators.

But treasurer Tom Koutsantonis said the incident – which is believed to have cost Arrium up to $30 million in lost production – should not impact a sale.

He told the ABC any buyer of the plant would be able to access state funding to make it less dependent on grid electricity.

“A lot of the steelworks around the world have cogeneration capacity, and most investors in steel plants know there is a great opportunity,” the minister said.

“And if you’ve got a grid to plug into, especially on the Eyre Peninsula, it can actually be a source of profit rather than being a problem.”

BHP Billiton said on Monday, October 3 that operations were still in a period of care and maintenance as the miner continued to work with distributor Electranet, and the state government, to ensure enough power would be fully restored as soon as possible.

Power was restored in the Roxby Down township – where many of the mine’s workers live – on Friday, September 30.

“Olympic Dam is now receiving some power from the grid and with the additional generation capacity sourced and connected, this will ensure asset stability and integrity of the operation until full power is restored and operations can resume as normal,” BHP said.

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