Roxby timeline + accidents 1987-2001

# 2001    Incident : Summary – Spills totalled 4,216,000 litres, no location or other data provided (except detail below).
# Incident : Undated – Total of NINE Process spills (including December incident below), no location or other data provided.
# Incident : Undated – TWO ‘Pond’ spills, no location or other data provided.
# Incident : Undated – ‘Undefined’ spill at the Port Adelaide sulfur yard.
# Incident : Undated – ‘Undefined’ Diesel ‘leak’ from a bulk storage tank at Olympic Dam, no location or other data provided.
# Incident : ‘Late’ – ~30,000 litres of Diesel spill at a Pump Station for Borefield B, no data provided.
# Incident : December 12 – 427,000 litres of Process leaching slurry containing 0.1% U (1,000,000 ppb) accidentally spilled from a holding tank. This represents a mass of uranium of about 0.43 t of uranium.
# Incident : October 21 – Large scale FIRE in the Solvent Extraction section of the Olympic Dam processing complex. Exact details still remain unclear, though it did apparently involve the release of radionuclides into the environment (mainly the atmosphere for wide dispersion).
# Incident : May – ~40,000 litres of Diesel spilt from underground fuel lines at Pump Station 1, Borefield A, and spread some 200 m from the source. The lines had corroded, since they were more than 15 years old. The residual contamination left in groundwater as there was perceived to be "no significant environmental risk" (pp 17).
# 2000    Incident : 106 spills totalled 2,021,000 litres, no location or other data provided..
# Incident : January 20 – Three workers were in the underground mine when explosives detonated. Although not injured, it represents a major breach in blasting safety procedures.
# 1999    Incident : December 23 – Part of the solvent extraction plant goes up in flames – this is where the copper and uranium is extracted. Allegedly, the fire was contained outside the uranium section with no contact with radioactive materials, although the detail is unclear. The fire could be seen as far as 25 km away at nearby Andamooka.
# Incident : December – Two workers seriously injured in a sulphuric acid spill.
# Incident : October 12 – Radioactive scrap metal detected at WMC’s scrap metal merchant in Adelaide. Load returned to Roxby.
# Incident : March 31 – Copper smelter explodes late at night, causing extensive damage. No workers injured.
# March 26 – Court case brought against Hugh Morgan (chief of WMC) and federal ministers Alexander Downer and Robert Hill, alleging genocide against the Arabunna people by the Roxby mine.
# March 26 – Official opening of the expansion, specially by Prime Minister John Howard.
# 1998    Incident : March 6 – Man is crushed to death in the underground mine at Roxby.
# 1997    December 11 – A further Amendment to the Roxby Indenture is passed through the SA parliament giving WMC responsibility for Aboriginal Heritage over 1.5 million hectares, well beyond the mine lease.
# December 3 – Senator Robert Hill, Federal Environment Minister, approves expansion to 200,000 tpa of copper and 4,000 tpa of uranium, but advises more environmental studies will be required for the full proposed expansion.
# Incident : November 30 – Union strike over the leak and spillage of sulphuric acid. 70 employees walked off the job after 23 workers had been overcome by fumes in the smelter area.
# November 6 – Supplement to the EIS released by WMC (their comments and responses to public comments on the Draft Expansion EIS).
# October 2 – ROXSTOP finishes with immense success.
# September 22 – ROXSTOP Desert Action and Music Festival begins at Roxby Downs, being the first major protest at the mine for over a decade. It includes protests at the minesite, blockading the highway of the delivery of equipment for the expansion, a public meeting on worker’s health, a music festival in the Mound Springs area, tours and witnessing of the damage to the Mound Springs by the two Borefields, and people having a ball doing it!
# May 12 – Draft Expansion Project EIS released for public comment.
# (Early) EIS for the proposed expansion of mining at Olympic Dam/Roxby Downs is announced.
# 1996    December – Amendments to the Indenture are made giving legal rights to WMC for extraction of up to 42 Ml/d of fossil Great Artesian Basin water every day for the next 40 years. This allows an increase in production to 350,000 tpa of copper and 7,000 tpa of uranium. This amendment was made without public scutiny and commits SA to at least another 100 years of uranium mining at Roxby.
# November – Borefield B, with one operational bore, is commissioned and bought into production.
# September – Work begins on the construction of Borefield B, deeper into the Great Artesian Basin in order to supply up to 42 million litres per day (Ml/d).
# July 15 – WMC Board commits to the major expansion of Roxby Downs, with "detailed design" to 200,000 tonnes per year copper level, and "conceptual design" to 350,000 tonnes per year of copper.
# April 24 – The SA Government Inquiry into the Olympic Dam Tailings Leakage is released, with damning indictments of WMC and yet still endorses their environmental management.
# January – John Faulkener, Federal Environment Minister, confirms the approval for expansion to 150,000 tpa and a special water licence is granted to WMC by the SA government.
# WMC announce plans for expansion to 350,000 tpa of copper and 7,000 tpa of uranium.
# 1995    WMC announces expansion to 150,000 tpa of copper and the development of Borefield B. Mines and Energy SA (MESA) modelling projections of the 50 year drawdown and Great Artesian Basin recovery rates are not made public.
# Roxby Downs completes second minor expansion to a production capacity of copper and uranium of about 85,000 and 1,600 tonnes per year, respectively.
# 1994    Incident : February 14 – WMC reveals that up to 5 million cubic metres of liquid has leaked from its tailings retention system at Roxby Downs. According to WMC the leak had been happening for at least two years but only became fully understood in January 1994.
# 1993    September – Memo from the Department of Mines and Energy (MESA) warns of a "potential problem" with water seepage and uranium tailings at the site.
# May – WMC and the Department’s of Mines and Energy and the Environment acknowledge that the tailings dam has been leaking.
# Minister for Mineral Resources approves increase in drawdown from 2 to 4 metres at the boundary of Borefield A. Approval restricted to 4 metres to try and protect the Mound Springs.
# April – WMC announce plans for a further expansion (‘Optimisation 2’).
# March 31 – WMC formally acquire 100% ownership of Olympic Dam. The cost to WMC was US$419 million
# March – British Petroleum (BP) withdraw from the Olympic Dam Joint Venture and sell their share to WMC.
# 1992    Incident : Worker dies at Roxby as the explosives he was setting underground prematurely detonate.
# Roxby Downs completes minor expansion to a production capacity of copper and uranium of about 66,000 and 1,200 tonnes per year, respectively.
# 1991    Approval given by the South Australian Government to expand Borefield A.
# February 19 – WMC/BP announce plans for a minor expansion (‘Optimisation 1’).
# 1990    Anti-uranium demonstrators block the path 3 shipments of Roxby output at Port Adelaide, a total of 24 uranium-carrying trucks. The uranium was sold to Sweden, Britain and the USA.
# 1989    Incident : November 5 – A total of 320 mm of rainfall at Olympic Dam led to major flooding. Increased groundwater levels were noted, as were the potential for flood waters to enter limestone cavities.
# 1988    Incident : November 5 – Major accident at the copper smelter during the official opening ceremony when a loud bang followed by a massive flame burst occurs.
# November 5 – Official opening of the Olympic Dam Project, including ‘special guest’ Norman Foster (former Labour politician).
# June 22 – First ore milled in the Olympic Dam metallurgical complex, production capacity of copper and uranium is about 45,000 and 900 tonnes per year, respectively.
# 1987    Mid – Surface decline and entrance tunnel completed.
# February – Operation of Borefield A commences.
# Incident : February – Major failure at the desalination plant when 70 ML in about 1 hour is lost through a massive limestone cavity beneath the surface of the storage pond. The estimated flow rate of the leak was up to 20,000 litres per second. The difficulty of predicting and locating potential limestone cavities was recognised.