Mining and Heavy Industries

BHP sets sights on South Flank deposit

Iron ore stockpiles at Port Hedland. Photo: BHP Billiton

WA Labor’s victory at last month’s state election has led BHP Billiton to move forward with its plans to develop its multi-billion-dollar South Flank iron ore project.

According to a report in The West Australian, BHP was hesitant to move forward with South Flank as long as a $5-per-tonne increase to taxes on iron ore miners was in play.

But with WA Labor winning the state election, and the former Nationals leader who suggested the tax now out of politics, BHP iron ore boss Edgar Basto has reportedly said the company feels comfortable moving forward.

“That was going to, in a way, to wait on that decision,” Basto was quoted last week by The West Australian.

“The fact we don’t have that [tax increase] is going to be a big plus in terms of how does the project stack up compared with other projects in our portfolio.”

Basto reportedly said new WA premier Mark McGowan had confirmed to miners that there would be no new taxes on their business.

“The people of Western Australia sort of dismissed the potential policy for an additional tax and they showed it in the way they voted at the last election.”

South Flank could develop into an 80mtpa iron ore project, to replace volumes as BHP’s Yandi mine depletes over the next decade.

“While this project is still in study phase, if approved by the board, it will see development of the world’s largest iron ore mining and processing centre next to billions of tonnes of high-grade reserves,” Basto reportedly said.

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