BHP Billiton has moved to get government approval of its plan to expand its Port Hedland operations, with the release of its public environmental review and draft environmental impact statement on the development.


The expansion would more than double its iron ore production in the Pilbara, and see its exports from the Port Hedland site jump to 350 million tonnes annually by 2020 from the current 150 million metric tons.


The project will involve dredging for shipping channels, as well as the construction of rail links and roads.


It says it will take two to three years to complete.


The Pilbara region, which produces slightly less than 40 per cent of the world's iron ore, has been the focus of intense development plans, with BHP, Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals Group all planning to add 50 per cent to their production from the area in the next three to five years.


The PER/Draft EIS will be available for public comment for a period of eight weeks. The public comment period is an opportunity for interested stakeholders to make their views known to government.


The report can be accessed at