Serious about tackling dust

Port users have been implementing leading dust mitigation and management practices for the past decade and, through PHIC, work collaboratively to continuously improve industry’s performance on dust.

We have been working with relevant government departments, through the Port Hedland Dust Management Taskforce and reporting on the Port Hedland Air Shed for the past decade.

In that time, we have seen substantial progress made with dust levels maintained despite throughput of export tonnage at the Port of Port Hedland almost doubling between 2012/13 and 2018/19.

Port users have a range of dust controls in place and work to implement leading dust management practice measures. These dust controls vary from operation to operation in accordance with individual licence conditions and/or site contexts.

These include but are not limited to:

  • Dust elimination: Focuses on the control of dust, such as moisture control of product from the mine to ship loading using water spray systems at key operational areas of storage and handling, and the growing of vegetation shelter belts.
  • Engineering controls: Such as wind barriers, enclosed chutes on ship loaders, dust covers on car dumpers, sealing of major traffic areas etc.
  • Administrative controls: Policies, plans, procedures and work instructions to personnel to ensure effective management of materials.

Dust exceedances are investigated and reported to the regulator – (DWER) by individual port operators in accordance with their specific licence provisions.

PHIC communicates honestly and transparently and has shared real-time monitoring data and reporting on dust monitoring since 2013.

Government also has a key role to play in implementing exposure reduction through planning controls, memorials on titles and education.

While PHIC members are competitors in the marketplace, through PHIC industry advances investment in new technology and innovations and shares information, experience and knowledge to ensure continuous improvement of dust management in Port Hedland.

It is through industry and the community working together with a common goal and a shared vision to make Port Hedland a vibrant, enjoyable place to live while at the same time ensuring the sustained growth of the Port that will deliver prosperity for all.

PM10 Results 2018/19

In the March 2010 Port Hedland Air Quality and Noise Management Plan, Taplin Street was determined as the most appropriate reference site to measure PM10 exceedances. In 2018/19 no exceedances were recorded above the 24-hour average interim guideline for PM10 of 70μg/m³.

Because of that result, four separate investigations were conducted between April 2019 and October 2019, prior to publication of the PHIC’s 2018/19 Port Hedland Ambient Air Quality Monitoring Program Annual Report.  The investigations found no faults or anomalies with the Taplin Street monitoring equipment, the overall monitoring network, or weather events during the time. The Annual Report was released on 18 November 2019.

PHIC subsequently requested a further investigation. On 31 December 2019, a parallel PM10 monitor was installed alongside the existing Taplin Street PM10 monitor. It was this investigation that detected inconsistent readings, which were confirmed on 23 January 2020.

The 2018/19 Annual Report was updated to exclude Taplin Street findings and republished with results from seven stations: Kingsmill, Richardson, Neptune, Yule, Wedgefield, Bureau of Meteorology, and South Hedland.

PHIC initiated a series of independent investigations and audits to examine the Taplin Street monitor, revalidate the data from other monitors in the network, and assess the standards of the company contracted by PHIC to manage the network. As a result, PHIC is confident the Taplin Street monitor, and wider network is functioning correctly.

A statistical analysis of the 2018/2019 data across all sites suggests the number of exceedances at Taplin Street in 2018/19 ranged from 9 to 13*. The guideline allows for 10 exceedances a year to account for natural occurrences.

The analysis noted that 2018/2019 was a high background dust year based on the readings from the BoM and Yule River monitors (BoM – Average PM10 31.5μg/m3 , 7 events above 70μg/m3 , Yule – Average PM10 22.1μg/m3 , 5 events above 70μg/m3 ).

Exceedances 1 Jan – 30 June 2020

In the six months from 1 January to 30 June 2020, there have been three exceedances of the air quality guideline for PM10 of 70 μg/m³ averaged over 24 hours.

PHIC notes January 2020 conditions may be affected by Cyclone Blake.

Taplin Street dust analysis in relation to industry growth

PM10 levels recorded at Taplin Street have remained within the interim guideline for exceedances over a 12-month

period for several years, alongside an increase in iron ore exports through the Port of Port Hedland – increasing from

280million tonnes in 2013 to more than 520million tonnes more recently.



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