BHP has begun stakeholder consultations for a medium-term increase in Pilbara iron ore throughput at its Port Hedland facilities to more than 290 Mtpa.
The company is eying an increase of up to 40 Mtpa “if market conditions allow” to service its Newman, Mining Area C, Yandi and Jimblebar sites, and the new South Flank mine.
Prior to the spread of the COVID-19 virus, BHP projected shipments of 273-286 Mt of iron ore on a 100% basis in the year to 30 June 2020.
The miner abandoned an earlier, massive Outer Harbour expansion at the port after a downturn in demand. Under that scheme its capacity would have reached 450 Mtpa.
Nevertheless, the Western Australian Government last year approved BHP’s 50-100-year Pilbara Expansion Strategic Proposal.
Port Hedland is already the largest global shipping hub for iron ore, which made up 99.1% of the port’s exports in 2018-19.
According to a new 10-year forecast iron ore production is expected to increase to a peak of 547.5 Mt in 2022-2023, before easing to an average of 545.2 Mt over the remainder of the period.