Australia’s Resources Minister Martin Ferguson declared the mining boom “over” yesterday following BHP Billiton’s decision to delay the massive Olympic Dam uranium project as commodities prices sag.
“You’ve got to understand, the resources boom is over,” Ferguson said. “We’ve done well – A$270 billion (R2.33 trillion) in investment – the envy of the world. It has got tougher in the last six to 12 months. Look at Europe, the state of the European and global economy.”
BHP Billiton, the world’s largest mining company, said on Wednesday that it would delay and explore a “less capital-intensive design” for the multibillion-dollar Olympic Dam copper and uranium mine as it reported its first profit slump in three years.
Ferguson said he was not surprised by the delay at Olympic Dam in South Australia. BHP Billiton also put several other projects on hold.
Cooling growth in China and ongoing turbulence in Europe sent its annual profit down 35 percent to $15.4bn (R128bn) as prices for many of its key products including iron ore plunged, while its costs rose.
Chief executive Marius Kloppers also blamed the result on a bullish Australian dollar, which has traded near parity with the greenback for almost two years.