Port Hedland Industries Council members continue to pursue leading dust mitigation strategies while working in an arid climate and challenging environment where natural conditions can cause wide-spread dust events. 

PHIC members involved in export activities operate under Part V environmental licences as part of the Environmental Protection Act, which sets out requirements to manage, monitor and report dust levels, including to the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation. 

DWER has been responsible for monitoring and reporting on dust levels in Port Hedland since 1 January 2022, when control and management of the Port Hedland Ambient Air Monitoring Network established by PHIC in 2010 was transferred to it under an agreement with PHIC. 

It is acknowledged that dust in Port Hedland is generated from natural sources such as the arid landscape of the Pilbara region and urban and industrial development, including the handling and stockpiling of bulk commodities.   

While DWER remains responsible for the network, PHIC has committed to sharing information with stakeholders, including local community members.  As a result, PHIC uses independent consultant Katestone to analyse the results and provided unverified datasets to PHIC so we can better understand dust events in the region. 

PHIC’s Community Industry Forum meeting last month was told that a draft report on 2023 air monitoring results for the Taplin Street monitor were received from PHIC’s independent consultant, Katestone, in February. 

The data needs to be verified by DWER, however based on Katestone’s analysis it is anticipated that there have been 29 dust events recorded at Taplin Street in 2023, with industry identified as a main component in 17% of the dust events.

The report noted the warmer and drier than average conditions, particularly from October to December 2023, with climatic conditions meaning a higher chance of below average rainfall. 

There was also decreased cloud cover, reduced vegetation growth and lower moisture content in soils and stockpiles. 

Regional fires also contributed to the dust events.