In its Pilbara Expansion-Strategic Proposal, BHP Billiton Iron Ore set out its operations in the region for the next 50-100 years, covering new mines, the expansion of existing mines and associated infrastructure.
BHP’s strategic proposal takes a holistic and long-term view of mining activities in the Pilbara region by assessing how environmental impacts will be managed at a landscape scale.
EPA took six years to give its recommendation, during which it considered impacts of the proposal to fauna, flora, surface and ground water, air quality and social surroundings.
EPA deputy chairman Robert Harvey said: “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.
“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 environmental impact assessment on BHP’s strategic proposal released today, outlines the conditions that may be applied to each development, including environmental management plans, a greenhouse gas management plan and a mine closure plan.”
The EPA’s report will be sent to the Western Australian Minister for Environment, who will make the final decision.