A collaboration between Fortescue Metals Group (Fortescue) and IBN Services will see plants from the Pilbara’s only commercial native plant nursery used as part of a vegetation shelterbelt around Fortescue’s Hedland Operations.
Around 3000 trees have been purchased from IBN Services, a wholly owned subsidiary of IBN Corporation, a leading Aboriginal organisation owned by the Yinhawangka, Banyjima and Nyiyaparli people. The trees will form a 2.2 kilometre by 6 metre vegetation belt which will decrease wind speeds across Fortescue’s operational sites, reducing capacity for open areas to generate dust.
Fortescue Chief Executive Officer Nev Power and Chief Executive Officer elect Elizabeth Gaines were joined by WA Regional Development Minister Hon Alannah MacTiernan MLC and IBN Services Chief Executive Officer Tony McRae to mark the start of the second stage of the shelterbelt project with a tree planting ceremony.
“We are excited to welcome Minister MacTiernan to our Hedland Operations to showcase the robust and innovative measures Fortescue has in place to improve environmental outcomes,” Mr Power said.
“Iron ore exports through Port Hedland are vital to the town’s future sustainability and as a responsible member of the local community, we want to ensure our operations can co-exist in a mutually beneficial relationship.”
Ms Gaines said providing employment and business opportunities for Pilbara Traditional Owners was a key aspect of Fortescue’s commitment to local communities.
“We want to ensure communities benefit from the growth and development of our business and to provide sustainable training and opportunities which support local businesses and people,” she said.
Owned and run by Aboriginal people, IBN Services operates the only commercial native plant nursery in the region.
“It’s something IBN people are really proud of and is part of IBN’s broader strategy of developing businesses to deliver better social outcomes and financial sustainability for Pilbara Aboriginal people,” Mr McRae said.
“Working in partnership with Fortescue and other Pilbara companies, as well as all governments, is helping to build our business and build better futures for our people.”
The planting of a shelterbelt or ‘green windbreak’ is part of a number of environmental controls that Fortescue has in place, which includes a boundary monitoring network, sealing trafficable areas and the use of belt wash stations and under belt sprays on conveyors.
The vegetation strip is a more sustainable and natural long-term solution to engineered wind fences and also provides soil stability during rain events and flooding and improves the aesthetics of Fortescue’s operational sites.
A ‘proof of concept’ planting was undertaken in early 2017.