BHP's long-term Pilbara plans green-lit

In an Australian mining first, BHP has received approval for a long-term Pilbara iron ore expansion plan
BHP's long-term Pilbara plans green-lit BHP's long-term Pilbara plans green-lit BHP's long-term Pilbara plans green-lit BHP's long-term Pilbara plans green-lit BHP's long-term Pilbara plans green-lit

Staff reporter

The Western Australian government has approved the Pilbara expansion strategic proposal, which outlines BHP's environmental framework for potential future iron ore operations over the next 50-100 years.

The plan is expected to reduce streamline approvals and reduce permitting time by up to 50%

WA Iron Ore asset president Edgar Basto said the plan provided greater visibility over its planned and projected ‘big picture' in WA.

"BHP WA Iron Ore is the first mining entity in Australia to develop a long-term environmental assessment for the sustainable future of our operations," he said.

"With a history of more than 50 years in the Pilbara we have developed a unique understanding of our current and future environmental impacts and strategies to manage these impacts and, as a result of the work we have put into this framework, we anticipate future environmental approval timeframes could be reduced by up to 50%."

Basto said approval of the plan gave BHP the confidence to plan for the next 100 years in the Pilbara.

"The strategic proposal outlines a potential for up to 11 more iron ore projects in the Pilbara over the next 50 to 100 years," he said.

WA premier Mark McGowan said industry had been "crying out" for this type of plan.

"It recognises the need to reduce unnecessary ‘green tape' to increase investor confidence, and pave the way for more jobs," he said.

"It is another sign our economy is improving with the major miner taking a long-term view of its proposals in the state." 

More than 350 separate environmental studies were undertaken as part of the development of BHP's strategic proposal, each of which were independently peer reviewed prior to submission and assessment by the WA Environmental Protection Authority.

The WA government approval complements a similar Commonwealth approval obtained in 2017.

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