The Western Australia Government has approved a 50- to 100-year strategic mining proposal for the Pilbara by BHP, which outlines bold plans for new and existing mines, the state said.
BHP’s Pilbara Expansion Strategic Proposal details a cumulative picture of the miner’s planned and potential operations across the Pilbara, including mining operations, rail, storage areas, dams and associated mine infrastructure.
It mentioned new potential mining operations at Caramulla, Coondiner, Gurinbiddy, Jinidi, Marillana, Mindy, Ministers North, Mudlark, Munjina/Upper Marillana, Ophthalmia/Prairie Down, Rocklea, Roy Hill and Tandanya; alongside future expansions of existing mining operations at Jimblebar, Mining Area C, Newman and Yandi (pictured).
This type of “strategic proposal”, which the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has approved with conditions, “helps reduce red and green tape, allowing the EPA to consider the cumulative impacts of future proposals, rather than assessing impacts on a case-by-case basis, as individual mines or developments are proposed”, according to the government.
The EPA assessed the impacts to flora and vegetation, fauna, water quality and quantity, air quality as well as social surrounds, with the ministerial statement for BHP’s strategic proposal including conditions that 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 where significant residual impacts remain.
“BHP is required to refer future individual proposals outlined in the ministerial statement to the EPA to determine if they meet the high environmental standards set by the strategic assessment,” the government said.
WA Premier, Mark McGowan, said BHP’s plan has the potential to deliver tens of thousands of jobs for Western Australians.
“We expect this Australian-first plan will reduce environmental approval times by up to 50%, while maintaining the highest environmental standards,” he said.
“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. It is another sign our economy is improving with the major miner taking a long-term view of its proposals in the state.”
Environment Minister, Stephen Dawson, meanwhile, said: “The Pilbara region holds immense environmental value and a key focus of the EPA assessment was to ensure the proposal did not significantly impact on important regional environmental values, including Karijini National Park and Fortescue Marsh.
“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.”