UK-Australian resources firm BHP is altering its 80mn t/yr South Flank iron ore project in the Pilbara region of Western Australia (WA) after a pledge not to destroy heritage sites in the mining area.
BHP received approval from the WA state government last month to expand the South Flank mine as planned, raising the prospect of further destruction of heritage sites of Australia's indigenous people.
"While we have the necessary approvals in place as required under the legislation, we will not be disturbing any of the cultural heritage sites identified without further extensive consultation," BHP said.
But it plans no change to the schedule or budget of the $3.4bn expansion of South Flank with first output still targeted for 2021.
The issue of the heritage sites at South Flank emerged after fellow Australian-UK mining firm Rio Tinto destroyed 46,000-year-old rock shelters in the Juukan Gorge earlier this month as part of its development of the 42mn t/yr Brockman iron ore mine in the Pilbara. Some Rio Tinto shareholders were concerned about the impact this will have on the company's reputation.
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