Dampier Salt Limited (DSL), located in Western Australia and comprising three solar salt operations – Dampier, Port Hedland and Lake MacLeod – is the world’s largest exporter of seaborne salt, with capacity to produce approximately 10.3 million tonnes every year. At our Lake MacLeod operations, we also mine and export gypsum to customers in Australia and Southeast Asia.
DSL is joint venture between Rio Tinto (68% ownership), Marubeni Corporation (22%) and Sojitz (10%).
At DSL, we are committed to sustainability and good environmental stewardship. For example, we try whenever possible to reduce using potable water and have several projects in place to substitute up to 50% of potable water with seawater. And approximately 99% of the energy we use at DSL to grow and process salt comes from the sun and wind: we collect sea water, then concentrate the salt through evaporation before we harvest, wash and transport it to port.
All three of the sites at Dampier Salt are recognised as being important to biodiversity. Dampier, Port Hedland and the northern part of Lake Macleod are designated Key Biodiversity Areas by BirdLife Australia due to globally important numbers of shorebirds which live at or visit the sites on their migratory journeys from the Northern Hemisphere. Biodiversity also extends to the local plant life – Lake Macleod has one of the largest areas of grey mangroves in the world.
In 2018, we implemented a new biodiversity protection and natural resource management standard, with input from BirdLife Australia, IUCN, and Fauna & Flora International. The standard seeks to minimise our impact by balancing conservation needs with development priorities through four actions. Our first priority is to avoid having an impact, after which we seek to minimise, restore, and finally offset impacts.
Dampier Salt Communities
All three DSL operations employ a residential workforce – that is, employees live in towns near our operations. We want local communities to share in the benefits that come from our operations – providing local jobs is one.
Our community partner, the Polly Farmer Foundation, provides educational support and mentoring for Indigenous secondary school students through the Follow the Dream Program. This successful program is delivered in partnership with the Department of Education and Woodside Energy.
The Dampier Archipelago has one of the largest and most diverse concentrations of rock art in the world, with an estimated one million engravings.
In the Dampier Archipelago in Western Australia, we are privileged to work alongside the densest concentration of rock engravings anywhere in the world. This art is of huge significance to both the local Traditional custodians and all Australians. I’m lucky to have been given the opportunity to spend time recording rock art in this magnificent outdoor gallery with Traditional custodians. And I’m proud to work for a company that values cultural heritage and has passionate people committed to our business, the rock art and our community partners.”
Victoria Anderson Rio Tinto Cultural Heritage Adviser
In 2007, we supported the inclusion of the Dampier Archipelago – including the Burrup Peninsula – on the National Heritage List, in recognition of its outstanding rock art values. The listing covers approximately 300 square kilometres of the Dampier Archipelago land area which includes a significant portion of our iron ore and the Dampier Salt leases.
Dating back tens of thousands of years, the rock art depict images of people, animals and geometric designs. The area also contains stone features, camp sites, quarries and shell middens, providing a fascinating insight into the cultural life of Australia's Indigenous ancestors.
As an outcome of the National Heritage Listing, we signed a Conservation Agreement with the Australian government, formalising our long term commitment to protecting the rock art on the Burrup Peninsula. This included the establishment of a fund to advance the understanding and preservation of the rock art itself, as well as contemporary cultural and social values.
All three DSL sites have Cultural Heritage Management Plans – providing comprehensive procedures and processes for the recording, protection, management and maintenance of cultural heritage.