Mining major BHP Billiton has announced that it will continue its iron ore mining operations in Western Australia’s Pilbara region for another 100 years. Accordingly, the company will release a strategic paper on March 21 detailing its long-term future plans in the region.

“The strategic environmental assessment (SEA) provides greater visibility of our potential environmental footprint over the next 50 to 100 years, improving our ability, as well as the government and others in the industry, to plan for future operations,” Edgar Basto, president of BHP Billiton Western Australia Iron Ore, said in a statement.

It has already filed the SEA with Australian and Western Australia governments for long-term mining in the Pilbara region, where it runs seven mines.

“We expect to continue to mine in the region for more than 100 years, which enables us to give back to the communities that have supported us for so long,” Basto added.

The company’s move for a “White Paper” coincides with the manifold challenges faced by industry players, such as global oversupply and slowing of China, from where maximum demand comes, reports Reuters.

The iron ore markets have been hit hard with many miners facing a survival crisis after the prices slumped. Though a recent surge in prices offered a slight relief under a moderate improvement in the outlook for China’s steel demand, many miners do not see any scope for a major recovery.

Meanwhile, BHP’s chief executive Andrew Mackenzie told a business conference in Melbourne that the industry needed to “be prepared for lower for longer” on iron ore prices.

Addressing the Australian Financial Review Business Summit on March 17, he said, “BHP Billiton believes it’s in the national interest to simplify workplace agreements so that our teams have the flexibility to succeed in the global market.”

Mackenzie added that industrial relations in Australia needed improvement to increase competitiveness. He said the inability to put the relationship between capital and labour on a productive footing will be like surrendering a competitive advantage.