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BHP and water

Water is central to livelihoods, the health of the environment and the sustainability of our business. We are committed to accessibly and transparently reporting our interactions with water and disclosing our water-related performance and risks.

 
 

Water stewardship: a shared responsibility

Water is integral to what we do and vital to the sustainability of our business. We cannot operate without it. We have a responsibility to effectively manage our interactions and minimise impacts on water resources. We also recognise the importance of working with others to enable more effective water governance and stewardship across the communities, regions and countries where we operate. Access to clean, safe water is a basic human right. Communities, governments, business and civil society must work together so that fresh and marine water resources are conserved, become resilient and continue to support healthy communities and ecosystems, maintain cultural and spiritual values and sustain economic growth.

The big picture: Interactions with natural water resources

Water BHP

How BHP interacts with water

We interact with water in a number of ways, including:

  • extracting it for activities including ore processing, cooling, dust suppression and processing mine tailings;
  • managing it to access ore through dewatering, as part of the oil recovery process and at our closed operations;
  • providing drinking water and sanitation facilities;
  • discharging it back to the receiving environment; interacting with marine water resources through our offshore Petroleum business and port facilities;
  • utilising marine water for desalination.

For an example of how we interact with water, read our case study Olympic Dam’s approach to water stewardship

Towards water stewardship

Effective water stewardship must begin within our operations. From there, we can more credibly collaborate with others toward solutions to shared water challenges. Responsible water management will ultimately make our business more resilient in the long term and positively contribute to an enduring environment and social value.

Read more

BHP’s Water Stewardship Position Statement

 

In FY2019, we developed our Water Stewardship Position Statement that expresses BHP’s commitment to, and advocacy for, water stewardship. The Position Statement will be implemented from FY2020.

It outlines our vision for a water-secure world by 2030. It was developed following broad internal and external engagement and is aligned to the UN Sustainable Development Goals and other initiatives.

Read our Water Stewardship Position Statement

Water and risk at BHP

 

The management of water-related risks needs to reflect the different settings in which we work. These include the physical environment, hydrological systems and socio-political and regulatory contexts. Risk management must also take into account the interactions that we and others have with water resources.

To better understand the water-related risks for our business at a portfolio level, BHP has assessed the water sensitivity of the locations in which we operate. We define water sensitivity as the degree (high, moderate or low) to which a region is sensitive to a range of water-influencing factors.

For more about our water-related risks, read the BHP Sustainability Report

Water and our governance processes

We have a range of core business processes, requirements and guidance materials that apply to our management of water at Group and operational levels. These include:

  • our corporate planning, scenario, strategy and investment
  • evaluation processes;
  • standards such as Our Requirements and other Group-wide
  • standards, including those on risk management, environment
  • and climate change, closure, human rights, community and
  • stakeholder engagement;
  • technical water management standards.

For more information, refer to the BHP Sustainability Report 2019

Sustainability Report 2019

Sustainability Report 2019

Read more about our water performance in the Sustainability Report 2019

 
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BHP and water performance

We have reported our water withdrawals and discharges, and have had water-specific public targets in place for more than 15 years.

In FY2018, we published our inaugural Water Report to transparently disclose how we interact with water.

In FY2019, we continued to disclose our water performance data in the BHP Sustainability Report 2019.

 

Our water target and goal

In FY2017, we announced a five-year Group-wide water target and longer-term goal. The five-year target is to reduce FY2022 freshwater withdrawal1 by 15 per cent from FY20172 levels. The target was developed taking account of each asset’s circumstances and focused on the use of freshwater as it is generally the most important water resource for communities and the environment.

Our longer-term goal is to collaborate to enable integrated water resource management in all catchments where we operate by FY2030. It is aligned to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 6 that seeks to ‘ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all’.

Freshwater withdrawals
Freshwater withdrawal increased 9 per cent in FY2019 compared to FY2018. However, overall we remain on track to attain the 15 per cent reduction target by FY2022, with FY2019 withdrawals 1 per cent below the FY2017 adjusted baseline, as shown below.

Reductions in freshwater continued as a result of increased throughput of the desalination plant at Escondida and the subsequent reduced reliance on the region’s aquifers. The most material increase in water withdrawal was at WAIO, due to increases in production and water required for dust suppression and ore processing.

water withdrawal

 


FY2019 Water performance summary
Total water withdrawals across our operations increased in FY2019 relative to FY2018. Total water withdrawals for FY2019 were 352,950 megalitres, compared to 345,710 megalitres in FY 2018.

Read all of our FY2019 water performance data in the BHP Sustainability Report 2019

For the full context of sustainability at BHP, including our water performance, see our Sustainability Report 2019

Sustainability Report 2019

Sustainability Report 2019

Read more about our water performance in the Sustainability Report 2019

 
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Sustainability Report 2019

Sustainability Report 2019

Read more about our water performance in the Sustainability Report 2019

 
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