The Western Australian State Government has approved BHP’s 50 to 100 year strategic mining proposal for the Pilbara, paving the way for the creation of tens of thousands of new jobs.
An Australian-first for the mining and resources industry, 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.
Having assessed the impacts to flora and vegetation, fauna, water quality and quantity, air quality as well as social surrounds, the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) recommended environmental approval of BHP’s strategic proposal, with 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.
Premier Mark McGowan said the plan has the potential to deliver tens of thousands of jobs for local Western Australians while reducing environmental approval times by up to 50% and 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,” Mr McGowan continued.
“It is another sign our economy is improving with the major miner taking a long-term view of its proposals in the State.
“The State Government commends BHP for taking the time to put a strategic proposal for the Pilbara together.”
Environment Minister Stephen Dawson said 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 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,” the Minister added.
“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.
“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.”