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BHP shipping operations at Port Hedland. Image: BHP

BHP is exploring options with stakeholders to increase its licensed iron ore export capacity from Port Hedland to beyond 290 million tonnes a year.

The mining giant is focussed on reaching 290 million tonnes per annum in the medium term and is making the necessary improvements across its supply chain to reach this goal.

This has provided options to increase future productivity, subject to market conditions.

“BHP is committed to the long-term sustainable future of the Pilbara as an economic powerhouse, both during and post the COVID-19 recovery,” BHP acting asset president Western Australian Iron Ore Tim Day said.

“Any increase in our production has the potential to deliver flow-on benefits for local jobs, local businesses and additional royalty revenues for the state and we want to ensure we remain open and transparent about our planned footprint in Western Australia.

“Any future increase to licensed throughput would be submitted to the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation for approval.”

BHP also plans to invest $300 million over the next five years to improve air quality and dust emissions across its Pilbara operations, ensuring its long-term future in the region is sustainable.

The Pilbara region, which hosts the company’s Port Hedland export base, is the company’s economic powerhouse, housing many of its largest projects including the Newman, Mining Area C, Yandi and Jimblebar sites.

BHP general manager port Nilson Davila said the company had reviewed the best global dust management and air quality control measures to improve its approach.

“The planned investment signals BHP’s strong commitment to the Pilbara, particularly to the revitalisation of the West End into a vibrant commercial hub,” Davila said.

“In consultation with the community we want to ensure we help to improve local amenities, while also continuing to provide jobs and economic opportunity for the region.”