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Mining giant plans to expand metal operations

BHP iron ore
BHP iron ore

A multinational resources company will significantly boost its iron ore operations in Western Australia’s Pilbara region.

BHP has confirmed it will expand its iron ore export capacity at Port Hedland by almost 28 per cent to 330 million tonnes a year.

The proponent reported 238 million tonnes of iron ore production in the 2019 financial year and predicts this will initially increase to between 273M and 286M before June 30.

Jobs promised

It revealed future improvements to its supply chain could allow export capacity to be increased further. Such an increase could create more jobs and supplier opportunities. Positions will be advertised on the BHP careers website.

“BHP is committed to the long-term sustainable future of the Pilbara as an economic powerhouse, both during and post the COVID-19 recovery,” BHP acting asset president for Western Australia iron ore Tim Day said according to the Australian Associated Press. “[This] has the potential to deliver flow-on benefits for local jobs, local business and additional royalty revenues.”

Talks are underway with stakeholders on how to expand export capacity, with the first stage requiring regulatory approval from the WA Department of Water and Environmental Regulation.

$300M cash splash

For now BHP will invest $300M in the next five years to improve air quality and reduce dust emissions across its Pilbara operations. This amount is in addition to an existing $400M it has already spent.

Work will involve erecting wire fences at port operations that are hoped to significantly reduce the potential for dust lift-off from stockpiles.

Vegetation barriers will be trialled at the western end of Port Hedland, in partnership with Curtin University and Greening Australia. New dust control projects will also be rolled out across the proponent’s Pilbara supply chain.

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“We recognise we have a shared responsibility to address dust issues in the Pilbara,” BHP port general manager Nilson Davila said in a public statement.

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