BHP eyes new iron ore mine in Pilbara
BHP Billiton has outlined plans for a massive new Pilbara iron ore mine that could eventually replace its 80 million tonne-a-year Yandi operation, north-west of Newman.
Yandi is not due to run out of ore for at least another five to 10 years, but BHP is already laying the groundwork for its replacement, filing early environmental scoping documents for a new mine at its Mining Area C operations.
Under the early-stage BHP proposal, one of a number it is considering to replace Yandi, the South Flank pit, 8km south of Mining Area C, would eventually stretch almost 26km across the Pilbara, and would be at least 2km wide.
It would use the processing infrastructure of Mining Area C, which produces about 59mt of iron ore a year.
The environmental documents, opened for public comment this week, are designed to help the Environmental Protection Authority decide on the level of scrutiny to apply to the project, with BHP recommending a full public environmental review be conducted.
Given that any need for the new deposit is at least five years away, BHP has not yet put a capital cost on construction of South Flank.
“We are currently studying a number of options to sustain our supply chain capacity for the future, and the South Flank deposit is one option under consideration,” a spokeswoman said.
“At the current rate of production, the resource supporting Yandi’s 80mtpa operation will need to be sustained from other ore sources at some stage over the next five to 10 years.”
She said the project would not change company guidance of the 260mtpa system capacity over time.
Operations at BHP’s Mt Whaleback Mine, Newman.