BHP has put a hold on its blasting operations at South Flank mine in Pilbara, West Australia. The mine is close to heritage sites considered to be sacred by native Australian Banjima people, according to a press release issued on June 11.
The company intended to expand its South Flank mine eight km northwards in order to replace the annual output of 80mn mt lost from its deteriorating Yandi mine. The project entailed an investment of $3.6bn and is expected to produce iron ore for the next 25 years.
BHP filed a section 18 application for the destruction of heritage sites for industrial purposes. Ben Wyatt, aboriginal affairs minister for West Australia approved the application on May 29. However, in view of public backlash against similar operations by Rio Tinto last week, BHP has reconsidered its expansion plans.
BHP said in the release that they are committed to working in partnership with the natives and are in consultation regarding the decision of mine expansion.