BHP eyes new iron ore mine in Pil­bara

Pilbara News - - News - Nick Evans

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.

Pic­ture: Me­gan Pow­ell

Op­er­a­tions at BHP’s Mt Whale­back Mine, New­man.

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