Frequently Asked Questions2022-01-12T07:20:56+00:00

Frequently Asked Questions

Port Hedland Industries Council

What does PHIC do?2022-01-12T06:39:40+00:00

PHIC provides a single industry wide point of contact for government and community engagement concerning industry development, environment, safety and land-use planning.

As an industry body, PHIC provides a forum for information sharing and knowledge transfer and assists its members to manage and minimise the impacts of industry on the community.

Through its members, PHIC brings substantial industry expertise and a coordinated response to issues and works with a range of stakeholders.

PHIC and its members are working towards contributing to a positive Port Hedland, with common goals. This will always be our vision.

PHIC is committed to working with the government and the community to ensure the long-term prosperity of Port Hedland.

There is more information in our fact sheet About PHIC.

Who are PHIC’s members?2022-07-08T01:14:11+00:00

PHIC continues to grow. Its members are Pilbara Ports Authority, BHP, Fortescue, Roy Hill, Consolidated Minerals, Mineral Resources, Pilbara Minerals and Sandfire Resources.

How do PHIC members contribute to the community?2022-01-12T06:43:53+00:00

PHIC members contribute to the community by investing in a range of educational, sporting, environmental, and social programs, as well as in kind support, mentoring and volunteering.

Combined, PHIC members contributed more than $9 million in 2019/20 in social investment activities and community infrastructure projects, and they support a wide range of ongoing community projects in Port Hedland.

These include initiatives providing youth and Indigenous programs, supporting major festivals, community events, education and career development programs, traineeships and employment programs, health and wellbeing projects, and provide funding for social infrastructure such as pop-up markets, skate parks, and other recreational outlets.

They also champion environmental stewardship, ensuring best practice across the Port Hedland community.

Value of the Port

What is the value of industry to the local and regional community?2022-01-12T06:42:55+00:00

The Port Hedland Port Supply Chain contributed $1.1 billion to the town of Port Hedland’s economy in 2018/19, creating 3,581 direct and indirect full-time jobs — 44 per cent of all jobs in Port Hedland in the year — and paying almost $500 million in wages and salaries to resident workers.

For every full-time job directly employed by the Port and the companies that trade through the Port, a further two full-time jobs are created in other parts of the town’s economy.

Industry creates jobs, invests in social programs and training, supports businesses, and pays royalties, rates and taxes that benefit the local and State economies.

Industry also supports local business through its local content commitments.

The forecast for jobs linked to the Port Hedland Port Supply Chain is for stable, sustained employment opportunities to 2028/29, with an extra 1072 FTE jobs a year expected to be created across the Pilbara.

How many local jobs does the Port of Port Hedland support?2021-04-07T06:40:25+00:00

The Port of the Port Hedland and the businesses linked to it are key economic drivers for the town. Modelling by economic forecaster ACIL Allen Consulting for PHIC found that in 2018/19, the Port and its supply chain account for 44 per cent of all jobs in the town.

That equates to nearly 3600 jobs. For every full-time job directly employed by the Port and the companies that trade through the Port, a further two full-time jobs are created in other parts of the town’s economy.

The Port and its supply chain paid almost $500 million in wages and salaries to resident workers in 2018/19. This money flows through the community – supporting businesses that employ thousands of people in Port Hedland and providing for the town’s long-term growth and sustainability.

If the Port continues to grow, what is the upside for the community?2022-01-12T07:24:45+00:00

A range of port users are expecting steady growth to 2028/29 that will deliver long-term, sustainable jobs and certainty for local businesses.

Modelling by economic forecaster ACIL Allen Consulting for PHIC found that, based on production and financial details provided by a range of resources companies, an extra 1072 jobs a year would be created in the Pilbara. The Port Hedland Port Supply Chain paid about $500 million in wages and salaries to Port Hedland workers in 2018/19, and this figure will increase.

In addition, the Hedland Maritime Initiative is working develop the Maritime Precinct area as a vibrant precinct that provides for commercial, leisure, tourist, cultural, training, educational and other land uses.

This will make Port Hedland a more attractive place for young people to live and work and underpin the development of the community’s economic and social infrastructure, which will benefit everyone who wants to live in Port Hedland.

Forecasts reveal the expected growth to 2028/29 could also deliver an increase in real income of $32.1 billion, with most of that being in the Pilbara ($14.9 billion) and the rest of WA ($14.4 billion).

How important is the Port to the Australian and Western Australian economies?2022-01-12T07:26:03+00:00

The Port of Port Hedland and its supply chain pumped $54.7 billion into WA’s economy in 2018/19, is responsible for one in every 12 jobs throughout the State, and supported the payment of $9.1 billion in wages and salaries to workers across WA in 2018/19.

Modelling by economic forecaster ACIL Allen Consulting for PHIC found that the port’s economic contribution accounted for 20 per cent of WA’s Gross State Product in 2018/19.

The economic benefits of the Port of Port Hedland and its associated supply chain flow beyond the region and WA. The modelling found that the Port of Port Hedland and the trade that is facilitated through the port in 2018/19 boosted Australia’s GDP by more than $64 billion.

It generated more than 133,000 full time jobs across Australia, delivered almost $4 billion in taxes to the Federal Government and paid $14.2 billion in wages and salaries to workers across Australia.

What is exported through the Port of Port Hedland?2022-01-12T06:46:33+00:00

While iron ore remains the dominant commodity exported through Port Hedland, other exports important are salt, manganese, copper concentrates, livestock.

Growth exports include:

  • Lithium, exported as spodumene concentrate, is forecast to grow significantly over the next 10 years, from 180,000 dry metric tonnes in 2019-20 to 370,000 DMT in 2020-21 and then again to 1,500,000 DMT in 2021-22. In subsequent years, total production is expected to average 1,600,000 DMT to 2028/29, and
  • More recently Port Hedland has become a hub for container shipped goods, with a regular direct connection between Singapore and Port Hedland for break-bulk and out of gauge cargo.

Future Planning

What future planning is currently in place?2022-01-12T06:49:25+00:00

The Hedland Maritime Initiative has been created to administer the Port Hedland Voluntary Buyback Scheme and the planning and development of a maritime precinct for the West End.

Drawing on Port Hedland’s rich maritime history, the proposed Maritime Precinct will create multiple opportunities for new economic activity in retail, hospitality, tourism, cultural, as well as training and education – supporting the Government’s goal of revitalising the town’s West End.

More information is available on the HMI website.

Air Quality

How is air quality regulated in Port Hedland?2022-01-12T06:50:06+00:00

Port users including PHIC members handling or exporting bulk commodities through the port operate under Part V environmental licences as part of the Environmental Protection Act, which sets out requirements to manage, monitor and report dust levels within the boundaries of their operations.

Further details can be obtained at or at or PHIC’s air quality fact sheet.

Does PHIC support the regulator introducing best practice dust guidelines?2022-01-12T06:51:20+00:00

Yes. PHIC is working with DWER to develop these guidelines. Port users have invested heavily over the past decade to reduce dust emissions and improve  dust mitigation activities at port operations and continue to do so.

Through PHIC industry works together and shares information, knowledge and experience to ensure leading dust control measures are implemented and continuously improved.

Why has industry been responsible for monitoring dust emission in Port Hedland?2022-01-12T07:39:28+00:00

Industry established the Port Hedland Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Network to assist the Port Hedland Dust Management Taskforce (2010 Report).

The Network has provided data and informed the work of the Taskforce and the Department of Health’s 2016 Health Risk Assessment and has assisted industry in the development of strategies and evaluation of dust impacts from the Port of Port Hedland.

It has also assisted industry to continually improve its performance on dust emissions.

Management of the Network was  transferred to the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation on 1 January 2022.

Industry remains committed to implementing leading dust mitigation practices in Port Hedland and will continue to work with the regulator in regard to the development of best practice dust management guidelines for port operators.

What is dust?2022-01-12T06:58:08+00:00

Dust is a general term used to describe microscopic solid particles suspended in the air.

It is recognised nationally and internationally that the most common metrics for measuring air quality is particulate matter (PM), specifically PM10 and PM2.5. This refers to the size in aerodynamic diameter measured in micrometres (μm).

The composition of dust can vary from location to location. In cities dust tends to be dominated by small particles from combustion sources, such as vehicle emissions. In regional areas, combustion sources are less concentrated, and dust tends to be dominated by larger particles. In Port Hedland, the composition of dust is significantly different, consisting largely of iron oxide.

To what extent does the weather impact dust outcomes in Port Hedland?2022-01-12T06:54:01+00:00

Meteorological conditions play a significant role in the dispersion and generation of dust in and around the town of Port Hedland.

The Pilbara region is an arid environment experiencing subtropical climatic conditions. Dry conditions and strong winds will result in higher level of dust emissions from industry and natural sources.

Dust emissions will also have a greater radius of impact during periods of stronger wind speeds due to dust remaining suspended in the air for longer periods and therefore being carried further distances.

The prevailing wind conditions during the wet and dry seasons of northern Australia can be variable.

The variability in the wind speed and wind direction in Port Hedland will result in variation of dust emissions and in the areas potentially affected by dust.

Wet conditions assist in the suppression of dust.

Why do Port Hedland Air quality standards differ from the National Environmental Protection Council recommendation?2022-01-12T06:59:01+00:00

The guideline of 70µg/m3 PM10 (24-hour average) was established in Port Hedland based on the WA Department of Health’s 2016 Health Risk Assessment and the advice of the Port Hedland Dust Management Taskforce.

The National Environmental Protection Measure (NEPM) standards for Ambient Air Quality are based on an urban environment. It is important to note the composition of dust from Port Hedland is significantly different to that found in urban environments.

Dust in urban environments typically consists of particulate matter from combustion sources such as road traffic.

Why doesn’t industry just fix the dust problem?2022-01-12T06:56:56+00:00

Industry has invested heavily in dust mitigation measures for more than 10 years and is committed to achieving a net zero increase in emissions as exports through the Port increase.

This has resulted in dust readings initially falling and then remaining steady, while throughput at the Port has tripled.

Industry recognises it contributes to dust in Port Hedland, but it is not the only source of dust in what is a semi-arid environment.

There are many contributing factors to dust in Port Hedland, including natural bushfires, port activities, light industrial areas, urban activities and prevailing wind patterns.

Not all of these can be controlled by industry. Nevertheless, industry is committed to implementing leading dust suppression methods.

The clear intent of the State Government’s response to the 2016 Port Hedland Dust Management Taskforce Report – released in October 2018 – was that while air quality guidelines and dust management activities are an appropriate response to managing dust emissions, other non-regulatory measures were also required including town planning amendments, town greening initiatives and more health education.

Monitoring Network

Why was the Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Network transferred to the Government?2022-01-12T07:02:48+00:00

Transferring management of the Port Hedland Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Network  to the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation was one of the recommendations of the Porth Hedland Dust Management Taskforce (2016).

The establishment and ongoing operation of the Network was a key initiative of PHIC.

The Network has provided data and informed the development of strategies and evaluation of dust impacts from the Port of Port Hedland and has assisted industry to continuously improve its performance on dust emissions.

Who will pay for the ongoing maintenance of the monitoring network?2022-01-12T07:03:49+00:00

PHIC will continue to fund the ongoing operations of the Network.

Use of LiDAR in Port Hedland

What is LiDAR?2021-04-06T07:26:54+00:00

LiDAR – Light Detection and Ranging – was developed in the early 1960s and has proven to be an extremely versatile technology used for a wide variety of purposes including remote sensing, vehicle automation and atmospheric studies.

More information is available from PHIC’s LiDAR fact sheet.

How does LiDAR work?2021-04-06T07:27:25+00:00

The instrument (transmitter) releases rapid pulses of laser light along a path (to a receiver) and measures the time it takes for each light pulse to return. This is a similar principle to radar, except it uses a laser beam. The laser pulse signal strength is reduced as it reflects on larger particles in the atmosphere, such as pollen, water droplets, dust etc. The light that is not reflected by particles continues.

What does LiDAR measure?2021-04-06T07:27:52+00:00

In the case of Port Hedland, the atmospheric LiDAR studies were seeking to understand the potential source, directional movement of dust plumes and concentrations of dust particles in the Port Hedland Airshed.

LiDAR measures the relative concentration of all particulate matter (not just dust) including PM10 and PM2.5, water vapour, and other suspended particulates and solid objects, which can then be represented visually.

LiDAR is a useful tool in this regard. However, care should be exercised when interpreting such imagery because LiDAR does not differentiate between particulates and solid objects.

LiDAR only operates at the level it has been set.

Does LiDAR measure PM10?2021-04-06T07:28:30+00:00

In most atmospheric LiDAR studies there is a requirement to validate the intensity of the return pulse through using measured data from secondary monitoring systems to develop a relationship between what the LiDAR has measured against the results from more traditional monitoring methods. However, the assumption that LiDAR is measuring only PM10 concentration is not correct.

A LiDAR can only map the extent and location of a dust plume in relative terms in real-time and it is recognised as a practical measurement technique to allow for two or in some cases three-dimensional mapping of a plume.

Should LiDAR be used in Port Hedland to monitor dust?2021-04-06T07:29:01+00:00

DWER said its 2017 study helped identify the location of dust sources and the movement of dust plumes in the Port Hedland airshed. It was not intended to demonstrate LiDAR’s use as a regulatory tool because of limitations with current forms of the technology.

Do the bright red areas on LiDAR mapping indicate very high levels of dust?2021-04-06T07:29:27+00:00

No. LiDAR measures all particulate matter in the atmosphere. It does not differentiate between types of particulate matter including dust (PM10, PM2.5), water vapour, and other suspended particulates and solid objects. When the LiDAR beam intersects with infrastructure (buildings, equipment) at the elevation plane of the LiDAR monitor, the heat map appears as red and could be interpreted as dust particles. That is, the visual representation is not accurate and can easily be misread. The same could apply during period of rain when the LiDAR pulse if reflected by water droplets.

Other Substances

Is there a risk of silica exposure in Port Hedland?2021-04-07T06:45:45+00:00

Potential exposure to respirable crystalline silica is a risk that all port operators manage in line with standards set by Government.

In relation to community exposures, the WA Department of Health’s Health Risk Assessment of Port Hedland concluded that measured levels in the community were around 10 times below the level that would trigger public health concerns.

The HRA concluded that in relation to respirable crystalline silica ‘the risk posed in Port Hedland at all sites monitored is very low and is not of concern.’

What is the risk of metals exposure in the ambient air?2021-04-07T06:46:33+00:00

The Department of Health’s Health Risk Assessment of Port Hedland found “that the air monitoring results for all monitored metals indicates that exposure to these metals in ambient air in Port Hedland is unlikely to pose any risk to human health… The same can be concluded for both silica and asbestos”.

PHIC Community Industry Forum

When was the CIF established?2022-01-12T07:11:56+00:00

PHIC established the Community Industry Forum (CIF) in 2019 with the aim of building trust and openness between industry, government and the broader community.

What does the CIF do?2022-01-12T07:21:42+00:00

The PHIC CIF works to ensure meaningful engagement and two-way information sharing and promotes open, constructive communication between all stakeholders in working towards developing a shared vision for Port Hedland.

It assists to resolve community concerns and provide quick responses to emerging issues.

Who is involved in the CIF?2022-01-12T07:21:31+00:00

The PHIC CIF comprises representatives from industry, government, community groups, indigenous representatives and interested community members.

In line with this transparent approach, members of the PHIC CIF have agreed to publish reference documents, minutes and presentations on the PHIC website.

PHIC CIF members also welcome feedback on issues discussed or suggestions for future agenda items. To share your thoughts, please email



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