Strategic Assessment of Hamersley Iron Pty Ltd (Rio Tinto) iron ore expansion for the Pilbara
On 18 December 2012, the Australian Government entered into an agreement with Hamersley Iron Pty Ltd (Rio Tinto) to undertake a strategic assessment for the Pilbara region of Western Australia, to assess the environmental impacts of the company's plan for mining and transporting iron ore and developing and maintaining related infrastructure in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. The strategic assessment will be undertaken in accordance with section 146 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act).
What development is proposed?
The agreement includes Rio Tinto's mining and transporting iron ore and developing and maintaining related infrastructure in the Pilbara region necessary to substantially increase production in the longer term.
What are the next steps?
The draft terms of reference for the strategic impact assessment report is currently advertised for public comment, closing 4 March 2013. Please refer to the Rio Tinto website .
Following agreement of the final terms of reference, a draft plan (describing proposed developments and commitments to environmental protection through a process of avoidance, mitigation and offsetting impacts) and draft impact assessment report (describing impacts on biodiversity and matters of national environmental significant from implementation of the plan) will be developed by Hamersley Iron Pty Ltd and released for public comment. At the close of the public comment period, an additional report will be prepared summarising the public comments received and how they are addressed in the final plan.
When finalised, these documents will be submitted to the Australian Government environment minister for endorsement. The minister may either request modifications or endorse the plan. Once a plan has been endorsed, the minister may approve actions or classes of actions to be taken in accordance with the endorsed plan.
This approval is a legal step that allows development and other related activities identified in the plan to proceed without the need for further approval from the Australian Government under national environment law.