Saturday 20th Jul, 2019

BHP’s long-term Pilbara plan approved

Several Australian industries, including mining, could benefit from big data analysis. Photo: BHP Billiton
Photo: BHP Billiton

BHP’s 50 to 100-year strategic vision for the Pilbara, which includes the creations of tens of thousands of jobs, has been approved by the Western Australian Government.

The company’s Pilbara Expansion Strategic Proposal outlines plans for new and existing mines, along with its rail, storage areas, dams and associated mine infrastructure.

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) recommended environmental approval of BHP’s strategic proposal, with conditions.

Strategic proposals allow the EPA to consider the cumulative impacts of future proposals instead of assessing the impacts on a case-by-case basis as individual mines are proposed.

The EPA assessed the impacts to flora and vegetation, fauna, water quality and quantity, air quality as well as social surrounds.

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Conditions may be applied to each development, including environmental management plans, a cultural heritage management plan, a mine closure plan and offsets through contributions to the Pilbara Environmental Offsets Fund.

BHP is also required to refer future individual proposals to the EPA, to determine if it meets the environmental standards set by the strategic assessment.

Premier Mark McGowan said the Australian-first plan will reduce environmental approval times by up to 50 per cent, while maintaining high environmental standards.

“Industry has 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,” McGowan said.

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

“The State Government commends BHP for taking the time to put a strategic proposal for the Pilbara together.”

Environment Minister Stephen Dawson said the Pilbara regions holds immense environmental value and is a key focus of the EPA assessment.

“The EPA gave BHP’s strategic proposal careful consideration, including considering the impacts to fauna, flora, surface and ground water, air quality, landforms and social surrounds,” Dawson said.

“Strategic proposals allow the EPA to take a bigger picture view of the potential environmental impacts the proposals may have, considering the cumulative impacts rather than on a case-by-case basis, as individual mines or developments are proposed.”