BHP’s proposal to expand its Mining Area C iron ore operations in the Pilbara has been recommended for environmental approval. The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has completed its assessment of the proposal, recommending it may be implemented but with strict conditions and offsets.
EPA chairman Dr. Tom Hatton said the proposal had been assessed against the backdrop of the rate and scale of development in the Pilbara and environmental values in the region.
“We found the Southern Flank proposal could proceed if certain conditions are met,” Dr. Hatton said.
“The Authority has recommended conditions that would require; implementing measures to maintain the local Ghost Bat population; ensuring water management associated with the proposal does not impact on the environmental values of Weeli Wolli Spring and Coondewanna Flats; a requirement to report on greenhouse gas emissions and the continued implementation of a cultural heritage management plan to minimise impacts to sites of Aboriginal significance,” Hatton added.
The Southern Flank project is located approximately 100 km North-west of Newman. The proposal includes plans to clear 16 257 ha of vegetation for an open-cut mine; associated mining infrastructure; an overland conveyor; accommodation villages and the construction and operation of a rail spur.
The Pilbara Environmental Offset Fund is currently being established by the State Government and it is recommended in the conditions that BHP makes a contribution to the fund for the residual impacts on ghost bat habitats and the clearing of native vegetation.
The EPA’s report to the Minister for Environment is now open for a two-week public appeal period, closing 22 December 2017.
The Minister for Environment will make the final decision.