Port Hedland has a population of about 20,000 residents. Its port, which serves mines in the eastern Pilbara, is the highest tonnage port in Australia and the largest bulk commodity export port in the world. In 2014-15 it exported 418 million tonnes of iron ore with a value of $28 billion.
The Port Hedland Dust Management Taskforce was established by the Premier in May 2009 to plan for and provide effective dust management strategies in Port Hedland. It includes representatives of the Town of Port Hedland; the Port Authority; the Departments of Health, Planning, State Development and Environmental Regulation; the Environmental Protection Agency; and industry (the Port Hedland Industries Council, BHP Billiton and Fortescue Metals Group).
The Western Australian Government has adopted the Port Hedland Air Quality and Noise Management Plan to manage planning conflict between industrial growth and adjacent residential areas. This plan was developed by the Port Hedland Dust Management Taskforce, which is chaired by the department.
The plan sets goals and allocates responsibilities for managing the impact of dust and noise on the local community, and for monitoring and managing dust and noise levels. One of the roles of the taskforce is to observe and report against these goals.
The Western Australian Department of Health has recently released a Health Risk Assessment report on air quality in Port Hedland.
The Assessment, along with other studies and analysis, will be considered by the Taskforce and used to inform Government decisions about how the development of the port and community can proceed together.
The Taskforce met on March 16, 2016, to consider the Assessment and its findings. A communique from that meeting is available to view.