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Closure of our operated assets

Our strategy is to set objectives and deliver optimised closure outcomes for our operated assets (whether or not operating) in consultation with local communities, Indigenous peoples and other stakeholders. 

 
 

Our ambition 

As stewards of the land on which we operate and members of the communities where we operate, we have a responsibility to leave a positive legacy for local communities, the environment and future land users. In line with our purpose and Our Charter, delivering optimised closure outcomes supports our commitment to social value and our aspiration to help to build a better world.  

Our approach and position 

Our intention is to set objectives and achieve optimised closure outcomes throughout an asset’s entire lifecycle via our closure management process, as illustrated below. Our closure management process is designed to integrate planning, decision-making and implementation activities at appropriate stages during lifecycle of our operated assets. As set out in our Closure and Legacy Management Global Standard, the process considers multiple factors to inform each asset’s closure strategy. For example, these factors include environmental values, our obligations, safety, costs, and risks (both threats and opportunities), as well as the expectations of external stakeholders and partners, including Indigenous peoples. 

Asset lifecycle

We continue to evolve our closure planning approach to seek to avoid or minimise adverse closure impacts on the surrounding environment and communities. We consider alternative closure options and opportunities for all our operated assets, including ongoing management, alternative land uses for enduring environmental and social benefits (such as re-purposing the site or facilities), responsible divestment and relinquishment. 

All our operated assets develop a closure strategy that includes a financial assessment, which is designed to deliver optimised closure outcomes and closure objectives. We also require each asset-level strategy to include post-closure monitoring to verify control implementation and effectiveness and continuation of applicable performance standards.  

We regularly review our closure strategies and practices based on an evolving knowledge base, changes in risks and global industry leading practice. Subject-matter experts in our Resource Centre of Excellence facilitate a Group-wide closure working group to share this leading practice and leverage closure management knowledge and expertise. They also support continuous improvement in our closure business systems, develop and assure technical standards and enhance capability across BHP. 

Governance and engagement 

  • Governance and oversight

    For information on the role of the BHP Board in overseeing our approach to and delivery on sustainability refer to the Sustainability approach webpage. 

     

    Post-closure risks, such as those related to biodiversity and water resources, can be complex and difficult to manage. One way we can better manage these risks is through our closure governance framework. This framework is designed to integrate the following elements throughout our operated assets’ life cycles: 

    • resource planning and development 
    • health, safety, environmental, community and social considerations 
    • stakeholder and partner engagement 
    • risk management 
    • financial planning 
    • assurance
    • The Resource Centre of Excellence leads closure governance, developing standards in mine planning, geotechnical management, tailings management, water management and closure management to enable effective integration across resource engineering disciplines and manage technical risks. In addition, the following standards set out closure requirements designed to avoid or minimise potential adverse impacts: 
    • The Closure and Legacy Management Global Standard sets the minimum requirements for closure and legacy management to achieve the optimised closure outcomes and closure objectives identified in the closure strategy for each BHP-operated site/asset.   
    • The Environment Global Standard and Climate Change Global Standard set out requirements regarding environmental impacts and climate-related considerations, which also apply post-closure for sites retained by BHP. 
    • The Community and Indigenous Peoples Global Standard sets out requirements regarding social impacts on the communities where we operate and our contribution after closure to social development and enhancement in a sustainable manner. 

    Our Internal Audit team is responsible for providing independent and objective assurance over the control environment (governance, risk management and internal controls) to the Board and our Executive Leadership Team. 

  • Engagement
    Stakeholder and partner engagement is integral to closure strategy development, as illustrated below. In addition to stakeholders and partners, we also collaborate with international experts by participating in industry forums. For example, we actively participate in industry body forums focused on closure aspects, including the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) Closure Working Group. Such forums allow us to share our knowledge and benchmark our performance, which enables our operated assets to employ leading practice in closure management.  
  • Other

    New South Wales Energy Coal 

     

    Following a review of available options, in June 2022, BHP announced it would retain New South Wales Energy Coal (NSWEC) in its portfolio and seek the relevant approvals to continue mining beyond NSWEC’s current mining consent that expires in June 2026. This is part of a managed process to cease mining at the Mt Arthur Coal mine by the end of FY2030 and provide a pathway to closure for the operation that prioritises our NSWEC team, the surrounding communities, including Indigenous peoples, and sustainable rehabilitation and future land use opportunities. 

     

    Financial provisions 

     

    We make financial provisions, subject to our internal controls and assurance, which support delivery of closure and post-closure commitments and optimised outcomes. BHP’s financial position, including provision for closure and rehabilitation, is set out in the BHP Annual Report 2023

 

Case studies

Common attributes leading to better closure outcomes include long-term thinking, robust science and proof of concept, and stakeholder and partner collaboration. The following case studies are examples of where we believe closure has been done well: 

Trucks

Western Australia Iron Ore 'Finish and Fill'

Life of asset planning for new mines faces increasing complexity, as locations become more space-constrained and BHP seeks to optimise environmental and social value outcomes for closure. Early planning at the design phase provides the best opportunity to integrate with mine plans and achieve this optimisation. To this end, BHP undertook an exercise in strategic thinking and collaborative cross-functional engagement with our teams across mine planning, closure planning, and engineering disciplines. In particular, we examined the concurrent optimisation of pushbacks (mine benches) and mined material management.