The FINANCIAL — BHP Billiton received the conditional backing of regulators in Western Australia state on Monday for its proposed multibillion dollar outer harbor expansion of Port Hedland,according to London Stock Exchange.
The long-mooted project, a key step in BHP's aspirations to significantly expand its Pilbara iron ore production later this decade, could be implemented with "rigorous conditions to limit environmental impacts", Environmental Protection Authority Chairman Paul Vogel said in a statement.
The outer harbor, which will take about eight years to build over four stages, will allow about 240 million metric tons of iron ore to be exported each year, Vogel said.
It includes rail and ore stockpile facilities, as well as a four kilometer jetty offshore of Finucane Island.
The proposal also includes a four-year marine dredging campaign, which involves the dredging and disposal of about 42 million cubic meters of sediment, he added.
The EPA found that the dredging could be managed in a way that is unlikely to compromise the marine environment, Vogel said.
The EPA's report to the Western Australian state government is now subject to a two week public appeal period closing Feb. 6.