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Background

BHP Billiton Iron Ore (BHP Billiton) holds a licence issued under Part V of the Environmental Protection Act 1986 (EP Act) by the former Department of Environment Regulation (DER) for the Port Hedland Port Operations. In addition, BHP Billiton also holds Ministerial Statements 433 and 740 issued under Part IV of the EP Act for dust management at Finucane Island and Nelson Point, Port Hedland.

On 10 March 2017, BHP Billiton submitted a Licence Amendment Application for the Part V licence (L4513/1969/18) to DER.

The application seeks to increase the Category 58 – bulking material loading or unloading production capacity from 270 million tonnes per annum (Mtpa) to 275 Mtpa. BHP Billiton states the proposed increase in capacity would be from the increased availability and utilisation of existing infrastructure.

This application is separate and additional to an earlier application made by BHP Billiton for an increase in production capacity to 290Mtpa.  

As part of the 275Mtpa application, a number of supporting documents were also submitted to DER – as follows:

*The cover letter available above is a revised version which replaces the letter originally submitted with the application (dated 10 March 2017). BHP Billiton has provided the revised letter in order to clarify a statement regarding its production expectations in the original letter. The revised text in the new letter has been highlighted in blue and replaces the following text (in bold) from the original letter:

“The amendment would allow for BHPBIO to achieve its production guidance while still satisfying no net increases of BHPBIO contributable PM10 dust emissions. The application submitted identifies how BHPBIO will achieve greater than 270mtpa production during financial year 2017 (FY17) by focusing on efficiencies and reducing delays across the operations.”

“BHPBIO has a guidance production volume of 265 Million tonnes (Mt) – 275 mt for FY17 and as such is expecting to achieve greater than 270mt sometime in June 2017 which would mean BHPBIO would be above our current category 58 licence condition for a total of four weeks.”

What is happening now?

The Department of Water and Environmental Regulation (DWER) has suspended the determination of the Licence Amendment Application at the request of BHP Billiton.  The assessment of the earlier application made by BHP Billiton for an increase in production capacity to 290Mtpa has resumed.