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Chasing ghosts: Management of ghost bats in the Pilbara

At BHP, we assess and, where feasible, prevent actual and reasonably foreseeable environmental impacts associated with our activities, in line with the mitigation hierarchy. Roosts for the ghost bat, Australia’s largest carnivorous bat, were recorded in an area proposed for future mining disturbance in the Pilbara. However, little was known about the bat’s distribution and ecology, making it hard to assess potential impacts or management strategies.

Using new and modified technologies, the project team conducted the first population level study of the ghost bat in Australia using faecal DNA material. They also mapped roosts in three dimensions using laser point cloud mapping and used this to develop and trial long-term artificial habitats to see if these could replace natural ghost bat habitats. The results from these studies will be used to support future environmental approvals for activities where impacts to ghost bats may occur. The results will also be made publicly available, as the techniques can be used for studies of other species and in other locations.

Extensive internal and external collaboration helped the team address  significant information gaps needed for biodiversity conservation and future environmental approvals, both of which could potentially constrain the mine plan. This collaboration has continued to build on Western Australia Iron Ore’s positive relationship with environmental regulators, research institutions and peers.