Mayday at BHP Billiton – 1 May 2009

When the company chose this day for the release of the Environmental Impact Statement on the projected expansion of the Olympic Dam uranium/copper mine at Roxby Downs, were they insensitive to the symbolism of the date, or was it a challenge? Either way, opponents of the mine gave notice of their intention to visit the Melbourne headquarters of BHP Billiton, and both the company and the police were prepared for something. Whether they were prepared for what happened is another matter…
Click on the image for video from the action:

Protesters line up outside BHP headquarters in Melbourne

Protesters line up outside BHP headquarters in Melbourne

From a FoE callout:

May Day: Stop the Olympic Dam Uranium Mine Expansion – Protest at BHP
Billiton office.
Friday, May 1, 11am to 1pm
180 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne

On May 1, BHP Billiton will release the Environmental Impact Statement for
its planned expansion of the Olympic Dam (Roxby Downs) uranium/copper mine
in SA. Come along to this May Day protest to voice your opposition.
* The mine operates under the SA Roxby Downs Indenture Act which exempts it
from key environmental and Aboriginal heritage laws that apply everywhere
else in SA.
* Billiton plans to make Roxby the largest open-cut mine in the world.
Export of uranium is expected to increase from an average of 4,000 tonnes
per year to 19,000 tonnes. In power reactors, that amount of uranium would
produce 2,850 tonnes of high-level nuclear waste each year and enough
plutonium to build 2,850 nuclear weapons each year.
* BHP Billiton proposes an increase in water consumption from 35 million
litres daily (from the Great Artesian Basin) to 150 million litres daily (up to 42 million litres
from the Great Artesian Basin, the remainder from a proposed desalination plant at Port Bonython).
The water take from the Great Artesian Basin has had
adverse impacts on the precious Mound Springs.
* The production of radioactive tailings, stored above ground, will increase
seven-fold to 70 million tonnes annually. The tailings contain a toxic,
acidic soup of radionuclides and heavy metals. There have been numerous
spills and leaks and large numbers of bird deaths have been recorded in the
vicinity of tailings dams.