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The Olympic Dam story: an insight into the mineral exploration genius of WMC Limited

12 September 2022 12:51

In 1957, Western Mining Corporation Limited (ASX: WMC) initiated a search for copper which started a sequence of events that led to the discovery of the largest known mineral deposit in 1976. It would take the company another two years before they understood the magnitude of their discovery.

Olympic Dam was the third discovery by WMC in 10 years. The significance of the discovery is that it would be another twenty years before the next big deposit, Prominent Hill was to be discovered. Carrapateena which is the next major discovery in that area was only discovered in 2005 on the western edge of Lake Torrens and only 70km southeast of Olympic Dam.

WMC was created in 1933 and was taken over by BHP in 2002. In 2009, Olympic Dam had a resource of 9.1BT of resource and it was 4.4 times bigger than the initial resource that WMC had announced. It was worth USD863B. In 2017, it was reported that there was 120MT of Cu eq (equivalent) and it would take 500 years to deplete the resource at that time.

The Story of the Olympic Dam was documented in the book “The Olympic Dam Story” by David Upton. I was able to track down David and arranged to meet him to get his view of the discovery and to talk about his book on this episode of Samso Insights.

I hope this episode brings out the essence of the hard work and perseverance of the WMC group to search and discover a once-in-a-lifetime deposit such as Olympic Dam. I am a big believer of mineral exploration. My thoughts are that the low hanging fruits of mineral discovery was a couple of decades ago.==

The giants to be found are all undercover or in areas that have been misunderstood or neglected such as Tropicana, Nova-Bollinger, Winu, Havieron, Julimar, and Fosterville, just to name a few.

Check out David Upton’s website: precompetitive-review.com

More compelling stories and content from Samso at: www.samso.com.au

00:00 Start

00:20 Introduction

01:36 How it started.

09:21 The journey to look for copper.

12:55 Communicating with shareholders.

15:57 The work culture in Western Mining.

19:35 The search for Mineral Systems.

24:05 Discussion of new technologies and ideas.

27:42 The need for interpretation of data.

30:14 The complexity of the Olympic Dam.

32:52 Political issues of Uranium.

35:06 What drives the exploration?

37:37 The drilling.

39:07 What is David Upton up to these days?

41:04 The vast amount information available.

42:46 Why read the The Olympic Story?

45:51 Summary of the Olympic Dam Story.

49:35 Conclusion

PODCAST:

The Olympic Dam Story:An Insight into the Mineral Exploration Genius of WMC Limited

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