BHP is seeking approval for its Olympic Dam site this year.Fly-in, fly-out mining jobs suggested by the state government as an alternative for forestry workers facing redundancy appear to have flown away for good.BHP Billiton has poured cold water on the idea that it would fly Tasmanian workers in and out of the state to service its expansion at its Olympic Dam mine in South Australia.
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The proposal was first flagged last year by the government as a solution to re-employing thousands of displaced forestry workers in the North and North-West.

A company spokeswoman has now said that the $30 billion expansion at its South Australian site had not yet been approved and that the company had no fly in, fly out plans.

“The first phase of the Olympic Dam project is in the feasibility stage and its progression into execution remains dependant on the completion of all required studies and BHP Billiton board approval to be sought in 2012.

“BHP Billiton has no plans to fly workers in and out of Tasmania for the Olympic Dam project.”

A federal Education, Employment and Workplace Relations spokesman said that the department had nothing to do with the proposal either.

In September, it was reported that BHP was considering using a private aircraft to routinely fly out and back Tasmanian workers given jobs at the mine.

The aircraft was expected to depart from the Burnie, Devonport and Launceston airports flying “large numbers” of workers to northern South Australia.

Last year, federal resources minister Martin Ferguson said that 4000 to 5000 jobs could be lost as a result of the transition out of native forests in Tasmania.

BHP is aiming to develop a new open pit copper, uranium and gold mine at the Olympic Dam site, increasing copper production from about 180,000 to 750,000 tonnes a year.

In October the South Australian and Commonwealth governments approved the environmental impact statement for the project.

“We are confident that, if approved, the project will generate significant new employment opportunities for South Australia in terms of direct employment, construction jobs, and additional flow-on employment across the state for many years to come,” BHP Billiton uranium president Dean Dalla Valle said.

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