Roy Hill victim of timing

Taylar AmoniniNorth West Telegraph

The timing of BHP’s application to increase its export volumes through the port appears to be the reason it won the Town of Port Hedland Council’s support, with a similar bid by rival Roy Hill recommended to be knocked back.

Councillors will be presented with an agenda item tonight which recommends rejecting an application to increase Roy Hill’s bulk handling facility and screening plant capacity by 5 million tonnes annually. The application submitted to the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation was to increase the throughput of the port facility to 60Mtpa of hematite ore with no added infrastructure needed.

The application also outlines control mechanisms to ensure that potential environmental impacts are either mitigated or reduced, such as dust suppression and surface water management.

Town officers have taken a hard-line approach to the application for expansion just 10 months after supporting a similar application by BHP for a 5Mtpa increase in its iron ore exports.

At the council agenda briefing last week chief executive David Pentz said the difference between the two applications was the point in time they were made in relation to the dust taskforce recommendations.

“We don’t know the impact (from Roy Hill) overall as a contributor without a decision by the task force. We shouldn’t be making a decision outside of that,” he said.

“At the time (of the BHP application) the dust taskforce report wasn’t pending. Had it been pending we probably wouldn’t have recommended it.”

The officer recommended the Town wait until the State Government made a formal response to the Port Hedland Dust Management Taskforce Report and releases its formal position on dust management.

The council was presented with a similar application for expansion in April last year when BHP intended to increase its bulk export licence from 270Mtpa to 290Mtpa.

At the time, the Town’s environmental health and community safety department recommended the council support BHP’s application, which it passed unanimously.

Whether the council chooses to support Roy Hill’s application or not, it may still be approved by the DWER.

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