BHP ramps up ‘bold’ Pilbara expansion plans

BHP’s ambitious expansion proposal for the Pilbara over the next century has been given approval by the Western Australian Government.

The 50- to 100-year strategic mining proposal outlines bold plans for new and existing mines within the region, alongside a vision to create tens of thousands of jobs in the state.

BHP’s proposal details the mining giant’s strategy across the Pilbara, including mining operations, rail, storage areas, dams and associated mine infrastructure.

It also looks to facilitate a more ‘holistic view’ of mining activities in the region by identifying and assessing how impacts to the environment at a landscape scale will be managed.

Western Australian Premier Mark McGowan said the proposal was a “major job-creating plan” for the state.

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

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

The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has also recommended environmental approval of BHP’s strategic proposal with conditions attached. The EPA assessed the impacts to flora and vegetations, fauna, water quality and quantity, air quality, as well as social surrounds.

Western Australian environmental minister Stephen Dawson said the Pilbara region held “immense environmental value” and the EPA assessment ensured the proposal did not significantly impact regional environmental values.

“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,” he 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.”

The Western Australian Government welcomed the strategic proposal, saying it helped reduce red and green tape.

McGowan said the state government plan would reduce environmental approval times by up to 50 per cent, while maintaining the highest 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.

BHP’s strategic proposal includes a ministerial statement outlining conditions that may be applied to each development.

This includes environmental management plans, a cultural heritage management plan, a mine closure plan and offsets through contributions to the Pilbara Environmental Offsets Fund.

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