Control of the network monitoring air quality in Port Hedland has been transferred to the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation.

The Port Hedland Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Network was established by the Port Hedland Industries Council in 2009.

The Network has provided data for the Port Hedland Dust Management Taskforce, supported the work of DWER, provided the community with real-time information online and assisted industry in developing strategies and evaluation of dust impacts from the Port of Port Hedland.

Transfer of the Network from PHIC to DWER was a key recommendation of the Taskforce, accepted by the State Government in 2018.

PHIC and DWER have been working through a phased Network transfer process, including the development of a Memorandum of Understanding and details around the functional transfer.

The MoU ​sets out the key principles for the full transfer of the Network, including the refurbishment, operation, maintenance, and audit of the Network, cost recovery and access to data.

DWER will make some changes to the Network, including the formalisation of the Port Hedland Hospital site as a Network location and an increased monitoring footprint. Further changes will be made to site locations, including signage, resurfacing and security.

A live feed of the data gathered from nine dust monitoring points around Port Hedland will be accessible from DWER’s web page. The page will contain a comprehensive overview of the network, as well as links to the monitoring network data portal. The network will be supported by the department’s Community Update page which details current regulatory matters in Port Hedland.

Industry, through PHIC — whose members are BHP, Roy Hill, Fortescue Metals Group, Pilbara Ports Authority, Consolidated Minerals, Mineral Resources, and Pilbara Minerals — will continue to fund its operation.

DWER has appointed third-party specialist air quality monitoring contractor Ecotech to operate and maintain the Network.

DWER Director, Industry Regulation Ed Schuller said the handover of the network was an important step in implementing the recommendations of the Port Hedland Dust Management Taskforce.

“DWER would like to thank PHIC for their work in founding the network and providing valuable information about ambient air quality in Port Hedland, which is vital to monitoring and managing dust levels.”

“The department looks forward to continuing to provide the community of Port Hedland with high quality ambient air quality information.”

PHIC Chief Executive Officer Kirsty Danby said transferring the Network was a significant milestone.

“This is an example of DWER and industry working together to achieve the best outcome for Port Hedland,” Ms Danby said.

“It reflects a whole-of-government approach and ensures that trusted science and evidence-based information will continue to be available to determine cumulative air emission trends.

“Port users have invested heavily over the past decade to reduce dust emissions, and this will continue.

“PHIC and its members have committed to achieving a zero-net increase in emissions even if iron ore exports increase and are spending millions of dollars on dust mitigation to support this commitment.

“Industry will continue to work with the community and the State Government to apply leading dust mitigation and management measures to minimise industry’s contribution to dust in the Port Hedland Air Shed.”