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BHP environment licences in Pilbara under review

BHP Newman Western Australia.
Newman Western Australia.

Western Australia government has confirmed that the environmental licences of two mining sites operated by BHP in the Pilbara are under review after concerns about rising dust levels in the surrounding areas.

Department of Water and Environmental Regulation would assess the dust sources, emissions, pathways, management measures and historic monitoring outcomes.

The director of Industry Regulation Ed Schuller said, “the review of a license is usually triggered by the presence of new information. In this instance, we’ve certainly noticed there are some higher levels of PM10 dust in the Newman area, and that’s the primary driver for reviewing the licences,”

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“Under the licence conditions for BHP, they’re required to do monitoring — they have four monitoring sites in the town which run 24/7, 365 days a year, and they report that to us on an annual basis,” he said.

“We’ll review parts of the site which are under the licence and review what is occurring at the moment, what is possible, and form a decision based on that to likely amend the licence.”

Mr Schuller has confirmed that the department would also look at the risks posed to the local community and what effective controls it would implement. “We’re waiting on some information from BHP who we’ve written to and they’ve offered us some information, or they’ll be providing us with some information of what their intentions are with regards to dust mitigation strategy,”

An outcome is expected by the middle of this year.

A BHP spokesperson said, “the company is committed to spending close to $80 million in capital and more than $150 million in operating costs over the next five years as part of the Newman Air Quality Roadmap to identify new air quality opportunities and implement dust mitigation work and projects at BHP’s Newman West and Newman East mine sites”.

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Image by BHP

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AMSJ April 2022