Mining giant BHP has received a recommendation of approval for the next 50 to 100 years of Pilbara mining operations from the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA).
The EPA had been considering the potential impacts of BHP’s Pilbara Expansion-Strategic Proposal — which covers new mines, expansions and other infrastructure — for over six years before making their decision, said EPD deputy chair Robert Harvey.
“The benefit of assessing a strategic proposal is that we are able to take a bigger picture view of the potential environmental impacts the proposals may have,” he said.
“Through the assessment process the EPA was able to consider the cumulative impacts of BHP’s future proposals, rather than assessing impacts on a case-by-case basis, as individual mines or developments are proposed.”
The EPA’s report takes into account potential impacts on subterranean and ground-level fauna, flora and cultural artefacts such as Aboriginal rock art engravings.
According to Harvey, BHP will still have to refer proposals on an individual basis to assess whether it meets the environmental requirements set out in the strategic assessment. This will be done in case there is any new information or environmental changes that may result in reassessment.
The EPA’s report (Report 1619) will, however, require final approval from the Western Australian Minister for Environment before it can be officially passed.