The Australian Greens say the Abbott Government is shirking responsibility by waiving a new environmental impact statement for the proposed expansion of Olympic Dam.
"The Federal Government needs to do its job and stop putting the private profits of the big mining companies ahead of the environment," said South Australian Greens Senator Penny Wright.
"This is a short-sighted measure, which shows how little the Government cares about environmental protection."
Senator Wright said BHP's original environmental impact statement did not mention acid leaching but there were serious concerns around about this process in South Australia, with previous leaching in a copper mine near Copely resulting in leaks and contamination.
"We need to be sure that chemical pollution from BHP's trial will be contained. If the Federal Government is cutting corners, what's to stop BHP from skimping on environmental protections?
Senator Wright urged the Weatherill Government to guarantee environmental safety, but said their record was not cause for optimism.
"Just because the Commonwealth doesn't care about the environment, doesn't let the State Government off the hook. They should demand a full environmental impact statement before taking any further steps," she added.