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The Forum > Article Comments > An Olympic dream > Comments

An Olympic dream : Comments

By Everald Compton, published 2/4/2012

Augmenting Australia's Murray Darling with water from the north offers the prospect of expansion and wealth west of the Divide.

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Somehow Olympic Dam mine has morphed into the spirit of the Olympic Games. I wouldn't compare the mine to Galilee Basin coal; one will save billions of tonnes of CO2 through nuclear power the other will create billions.

I don't have at my fingertips the necessary data on evaporation rates and land gradients but the idea of flooding Lake Eyre has been around since the late 1800s. The idea is daft. As more water is pumped in it would become a giant booger of salt under merciless evaporation and seepage. That river water that flows to the Queensland coast is no doubt helping the local ecology. Turning it inland would harm that as we see with the NSW Snowy River. Presumably more coal would be burned to power the pumps along the long straight stretches of canal.

My suggestion is this; go ahead with Olympic Dam mine expansion perhaps using a small nuclear power station on the nearest coastline to power desalination. Meanwhile leave Galilee Basin coal in the ground as already sequestered carbon. If Clive Palmer wants to help the human race he will have his casino instead.
Posted by Taswegian, Monday, 2 April 2012 7:47:32 AM
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Yes leave the coal in the ground.
Posted by sarnian, Monday, 2 April 2012 8:51:34 AM
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Instead of all this enormous pie-in-the-sky expansionism, why donít we do the opposite: Reduce immigration to net zero and stabilise our population, develop renewable energy sources and concentrate on improving energy and resource-use efficiency across the board, and develop a sustainable society!

Huge new water schemes, food bowls, mines, blah, blah, blah, is all just taking us down the same old track Ė ever more people, ever more resource consumption, ever more environmental problems and NOT a better quality of life or a more secure future!

OK, so these two philosophies need not be entirely mutually exclusive. Some large-scale projects could be in order, but ONLY if they are implemented within a genuine sustainability paradigm.
Posted by Ludwig, Monday, 2 April 2012 9:51:28 AM
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Mr Compton makes two glaring omissions in order to boost his case for raping AUSTRALIA'S MINERAL WEALTH while Governments are still soft on the issue of mineral sustainability for future generations.

The essence of Mr Compton's efforts is, to my mind, "get Australia's finite mineral wealth NOW while the gettin's good".

1. Olympic dam will use a significant amount of Aquifer waters as the desal option is not planned to supply all the mine's needs. In fact there are concerns the desal plant is just an inflated PR sweetener to get the mine started without public opposition. If I were a Sth Aussie I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for my share of that desal water. In the next big looming drought Sth Australia will suffer because of the loss of aquifer waters & BHP will not sacrifice profits to divert desal water to non-investors like Sth Australians. That's business!

2. Australia's interior is a siltation basin. That means every channel secured and every canal engineered in proposed projects will be filled with sand after every flood event. The cost to clean up the mess each time will exceed the original infrastructure investments.

The only way to rejuvinate Lake Eyre is to channel salt water from Port Augusta via a 3 metre tunnel bore down a 15m slope to Lake Eyre.

BHP's desal plant must be a combined salt, rare earth & fresh water production unit that can supply the Mine's full water needs plus fresh water for several small freshwater lakes within the deepest parts of the Eyre basin. If BHP cannot see a way to profitably do this then they should be told to come back when they can!

Continuing,
Posted by KAEP, Monday, 2 April 2012 9:56:20 AM
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Continued..

The additional benefit of a BHP salt water flooding & processing at Lake Eyre is that any amount of increasing evaporation in central Australia will promote an entropy gradient from the Great Australian Bight toward the Eastern states. Its modest, sure but its tangible and can be built on. That's the National perspective that Mr Compton tries to allude to. There is no silver bullet except in corporate con-artists dreams.

We can gradually improve Australia's Hydrology, we can have Uranium mining, we can have profitable salt and rare Earth industries so why can't we have miners with a real national conscience and NOT a crude & ruthless obligation to fatten overseas investors while wrapping that evil in the Australian flag?
Posted by KAEP, Monday, 2 April 2012 10:00:24 AM
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Certainly gives a new meaning to the word "pipe dreams" - at least in the Australian context.
Such a scheme would probably result in a huge increase in the duck population in Australia.
Posted by Daffy Duck, Monday, 2 April 2012 10:08:15 AM
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