BHP strikes native title deal in the Pilbara

BHP Billiton has signed its first big native title deal in the Pilbara, clearing the way for a major expansion of its operations.

The agreement with the Nyiyaparli people allows the company to move ahead with plans to more than double output from its Pilbara operations by 2020.

The Yamatji Marlpa Malbra Aboriginal Corporation has led the talks with BHP on behalf of the native title group over the past four years.

The corporation says the agreement covers BHP's current and future operations.

Spokesman Simon Hawkins says the agreement aims to deliver cultural, social and economic benefits through financial and non-monetary means.

"It's a good deal, it's a deal that's comparable with other agreements being reached in the Pilbara and it's a life of mine agreement so it really does provide an opportunity for the traditional owners to improve their capital and prosperity from mining on their country," he said.

While the corporation would not reveal the dollar value of the agreement, it is believed to be similar to the $2 billon deal Rio Tinto sealed with other traditional owners in the Pilbara last year.

BHP Billiton says the agreement contains comprehensive Indigenous approvals and a heritage protection regime which will continue for the life of the company's operations in the region.

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