BHP Billiton Western Australia Iron Ore (WAIO) has submitted a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of its central Pilbara iron ore assets to contribute to the “long term environmental planning and management” of its operations.
BHP Billiton Western Australia Iron Ore Asset President, Edgar Basto said the SEA was the first of its kind in the Australian mining industry, providing an overview of the regional environmental footprint of all of the company’s Pilbara-based iron ore operations.
“We are proud to be the first mining company to use our environmental knowledge to prepare and submit a Strategic Environmental Assessment in Australia which could help build a long-term sustainable future for not only WAIO, but also the Western Australian community,” Mr Basto said.
“The SEA provides greater visibility of our potential environmental footprint over the next 50 to 100 years, improving our ability, as well as the Government and others in the industry, to plan for future operations. It outlines where we may develop in the future so any potential impacts on the environment can be assessed and adequately managed for future generations.”
He said the company would still need to work with relevant departments to ensure necessary approvals were sought for individual projects.
“Previously, we worked through the approval process for individual projects in isolation. We can now look at how future developments may interact and think about what we need to do to manage any impacts in advance,” he added.
“It gives the Company, industry, the community and regulators a more comprehensive understanding of the region, which ultimately helps everyone to more effectively manage our natural resources. It’s about being transparent in our future plans and recognising that environmental impacts are not confined to one particular mining project and should be looked at more holistically.”
He said the SEA was made public and open for comments, adding that it demonstrates the company’s ongoing commitment to the Pilbara and its host communities over the long term.
“We expect to continue to mine in the region for more than 100 years, which enables us to give back to the communities that have supported us for so long,” Mr Basto concluded.