The Port of Esperance is committed to delivering best practice environmental management through the implementation of its Environmental Policy objectives via the Ports Environmental Management Plan.

The plan documents the strategy for the identification and assessment of environmental risks, the implementation of controls to reduce risk and monitoring, and environmental monitoring to validate the effectiveness of handling controls or to identify any need for improvement. Esperance Ports uses this process to drive continuous improvement.

Each year the Port of Esperance develops an environmental management program, identifying actions to enable legislative reporting, the maintenance of the environmental management system and the reduction of key risks from Port activities including dust, noise, waste, water and sediment quality. This program is to be completed throughout the year.

The Port is required to operate under the requirements of its environmental licence, its three Ministerial Statements, MS325, MS570, MS681, its Regulation 17 Noise Approval, National Pollutant Inventory, waste legislation and other statutory environmental requirements.

The Port is audited annually by the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation for compliance with the conditions of its Environmental Licence.


Southern Ports understand that airborne dust is a significant environmental and community concern. We consistently monitor and manage dust-producing activities and emissions, to ensure that community impact is minimised or eliminated where possible and to remain compliant with our Operating Licence. 

Dust is consistently monitored by the Port of Esperance. This includes:

  • Daily monitoring and formal weekly inspections around the Port, to identify excessive and unusual occurrences or generation of dust
  • Dust screens to provide a visual aid in identifying dust deposition. These are cleaned and monitored during handling of potentially dusty bulk products
  • E-Samplers within the Port site to provide 24/7 real-time monitoring of airborne dust. These monitors are used to send warning text messages to operators handling higher risk bulk cargoes
  • In accordance with the Operating Licence, monitoring of respirable airborne dust using real time Beta Attenuation Monitors (BAMs). There are five of each of these sampler types located in the community surrounding the Port. The BAM data is relayed and checked daily, with any levels above acceptable criteria investigated and reported to the regulator (Department of Water and Environmental Regulation)
  • A High Volume Air Sampler (HVAS) is positioned adjacent to each BAM. These pump air through a filter to obtain dust samples that are analysed to determine airborne concentrations of metals such as iron, nickel, copper and lithium. These metals are present in the bulk minerals exported through the Port

Respirable dust is of specific concern, given its potential human health impacts. Respirable dust is defined as that which is less than 10 microns in size, which is written as 'PM10'.

Sources of Dust

Dust can come from inside or outside the Port and can be amplified by unfavourable wind and weather conditions. However, due to tight loading controls, dust from bulk minerals, other than iron ore, has not been significant in recent years. Please see below for further information on iron ore dust and control measures.

Sources of dust at the Port include:


  • Dust generated by traffic on unsealed roads
  • Ship loading of iron ore
  • Ship loading of woodchips and grain

Generated outside of the Port

  • Wood fires
  • Bushfires
  • Unsealed roads
  • Construction sites and activities
  • Other unsealed surfaces such as the beach
  • Marine aerosols including salt

The graph below shows the background concentration of total respirable dust (measured using BAMs) and respirable iron dust measured around the Port (measured using HVAS). The data is presented as a combined monthly average from all monitors. The plots show that respirable dust is mostly composed of dust from sources other than iron. 

Background respirable dust at the Esperance Port is consistently lower than the general PM10 dust criteria on the Port's Operating Licence. 

Background Respirable Dust at Esperance Port from all sources

Iron Dust - Operating Licence Limits

The general criteria set out by the Operating Licence states that total respirable dust over a 24-hour average must not exceed 50 µg/m3, which includes iron dust. More specific limits are set out for other metals such as copper and nickel. The Port complies with all requirements of the Operating Licence.

Iron Dust - Data

Despite the low levels of iron dust indicated by the Ports' dust monitoring system, when we zoom into the iron dust date there is a recent upward trend. The greatest contributors to iron dust from the Port are unsealed roads (red laterite gravel contains iron) and iron-ore ship loading. 

The graph below presents the results (monthly averages) of ongoing dust monitoring that has been undertaken at the Esperance Port since 2008. Monitoring is undertaken at five sites immediately surrounding the Port, and since July 2018, monitoring is carried out every sixth day as mandated by the Port's Operating Licence. The dust reported is the concentration of respirable (PM10) iron which has been analysed by an accredited laboratory. The laboratory is unable to distinguish iron from iron ore operations and iron from other sources. However, it is recognised that iron ore dust is likely to contribute to the levels of iron dust around the Port, as shown in the figure below when levels were lower when there was no iron ore loading between July and December 2018. 

PM10 Iron (Fe) Concentration

The following table summarises the trends of iron dust presented in the graph above, compared with iron ore exports. 


Iron Ore Export Tonnage

(approx million tonnes per annum)

PM10 Iron Dust Trends
2008 - 2011 8 Relatively stable
2011 - 2012 9 - 11 Minor steady inrease
2012 - 2017 11 - 12 Increasing since 2008, seasonal fluctuations
2017 - 2021 4 - 10 Significant increase, strongly seasonal

We recognise that there has been an increase in iron dust, which has been attributed to the variable moisture content of iron ore currently being received by the Port. We are working with the customer to improve dust controls. 

Dust Improvement Actions

The Port's iron ore circuit, which loads product onto the ship, continues to be a leading practice across iron ore exports, with existing dust controls including:

  • Moisture control on the iron ore at the mine site, prior to railing to the Port
  • Product moisture content is reported by the mine site to the Port
  • Regular updates from the mine site on product quality
  • Enclosed iron ore circuit at the Port
  • Engineered dust capture
  • Water sprays to condition the ore
  • Water sprays at the shiploader

The Port is working with its main client to implement further controls to reduce dust emissions, including:

  • Mine site actions to improve moisture consistency of the ore
  • Increasing the Port's sealed road areas from 20% to 80% by June 2022
  • Upgrades to the water and product conditioner sprays in the iron ore circuit
  • Trial of several conditioner types
  • Trial of an automated dust monitor system in the rotary car dumper. This will automate conditioner and water sprays
  • Upgrading scrapers in the iron ore circuit



The Esperance Port operates under an environmental licence issued by the Minister for the Environment. Current copies of the license are available on the Department of Water and Environment Regulation website.


The Port of Esperance aims to be compliant with the International Martime Organisation (IMO) International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships (MARPOL). This is done through a variety of waste collection services, transporters and treatment facilities. Costs for these services are the responsibility of the shipping agent and the client, and are charged additional to berthing fees.

Shipping agents and vessel masters interested finding out more information in relation to these services provided at the Port of Esperance can visit the following link on the IMO website and click on the Port Reception Facilities tab, log in and Browse Facilities in a Port - https://gisis.imo.org/Public/Default.aspx


Results of our Environmental Monitoring Program can be found here.


Please visit the Southern Ports Policy page to view a copy of our Environmental Policy. For further queries related to Waste Management or anything environment related at the Port of Esperance please contact us.

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