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Welcome to BHP's inaugural Water Report

Water is vital to the livelihood of communities, the health of the environment and the sustainability of our business.

Transparency is crucial to effective water governance. The BHP Water Report 2018 is our first step towards more accessible and transparent reporting of our interactions with water and of our water-related performance and risks.

 

Water – a vital shared resource
Water is essential to life and plays a spiritual, cultural, recreational, ecological and economic role in every landscape. This requires collaboration within a catchment between communities, government, business and civil society to responsibly meet water needs today while also safeguarding water supplies for future generations.

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Towards water stewardship
Water stewardship is about using water in a socially equitable, environmentally sustainable, and economically beneficial way. Effective water stewardship requires collaboration and concerted action from all parties.

While water management has long been part of BHP’s governance, risk and operational management practices, increased pressure on water resources from population growth and climate change means we must do more – for the future of our business and the future of communities and the environments on which we all depend.

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Water risk and governance
BHP is exposed to a broad spectrum of water-related risks because of the nature and location of our operations. Our diverse portfolio means we operate within a range of settings that influence the levels of water sensitivity and the nature of water-related risks for our assets.

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

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BHP’s water performance
We interact with a diverse range of water sources including ground, surface and sea water. We use water in a variety of ways from processing our ore and controlling dust in our mining operations to cooling and enhanced product recovery in our petroleum operations. We also handle water in other ways such as diverting it around our operations during storm events.

We report on our water inputs, outputs and recycling/reuse and on progress against our public water targets and longer-term goal.

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BHP and water1

BHP and water

Water Report 2018

Water Report 2018

 
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The big picture

Water is essential to life, and plays a central spiritual, cultural, recreational, ecological and economic role in every landscape.

The big picture

Access to clean, safe water is a basic human right, vital for health and wellbeing and central to the eradication of poverty. A sustainable, unpolluted water supply is critical to the health of the environment on which we all depend.

Water is also critical to our business. Our total water inputs2 in FY2018 from ground, surface and sea waters was 345,710 megalitres. It’s also a crucial resource for other enterprises and industries, and, without a secure supply of water, whole economies cannot function.

The United Nations has declared 2018—2028 as the action decade for water; a focus that BHP fully supports. Together with our stakeholders, we intend to advocate for transparent, socially equitable, environmentally sustainable and economically beneficial governance of water. We recognise we need to start at home in our operations; to build a foundation from which we can credibly contribute more broadly. We all must work more cooperatively to effectively balance multiple needs and safeguard water supplies for future generations.

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Water Report 2018

Water Report 2018

 
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Towards water stewardship

Water stewardship is about using water in a socially equitable, environmentally sustainable, and economically beneficial way. Effective water stewardship requires collaboration and concerted action from all parties.

Towards water stewardship

While water management has been part of BHP’s governance, risk and operational management practices for a long time, we recognise that growing pressure on water resources means we must do more. Ultimately, this will not only enhance our productivity and long-term business resilience, but also create broader, positive and enduring environmental and social outcomes.

The first steps are for BHP to improve management of water at our own operations, increase transparency about our performance and risks and collaborate with others for effective water governance to enable responsible and sustainable water use. To achieve this, we have established a water stewardship strategy comprising five pillars.

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The five pillars of our water stewardship strategy

The five pillars of our water stewardship strategy

The five pillars of our water stewardship strategy

Water Report 2018

Water Report 2018

 
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Water risk and governance

BHP is exposed to a broad spectrum of water-related risks because of the nature and location of our operations. We have core business processes, requirements and guidance materials that apply to our management of water at Group and operational levels.

Water sensitivity
To better understand the inherent, relative water-related risks for our business at a portfolio level, BHP has undertaken a primarily qualitative assessment of water sensitivity in the locations in which we operate. This assessment takes into account the different settings in which we work: the physical environment; the socio-political and regulatory context; and the interactions we and others have with water resources.

Water-related risks
Our preliminary focused analysis of water-related risks identified 11 significant water-related risk areas, which are set out below.

Our water-related risk areas by asset3

Our water-related risks areas by asset

Explore the table in more detail.

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

  • planning and strategy, including our corporate planning process, scenarios and signals, and investment evaluation;
  • Our Requirements standards on risk management, environment management, closure, human rights (including those of Indigenous peoples), community and stakeholder engagement and climate change adaptation planning;
  • tailings management;
  • target setting;
  • water accounting;
  • audit and assurance. 
Water Report 2018

Water Report 2018

 
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BHP’s water performance

We report on our water inputs, outputs and recycling/reuse and on progress against our public water targets and longer-term goal.

 

Fresh water withdrawals
In FY2018, we achieved a two per cent reduction of fresh water withdrawal5 against our new five-year water target of reducing FY2022 fresh water withdrawal by 15 per cent from FY20176 levels. This was largely attributable to the commissioning of the desalination plant at Escondida and the reduction of reliance on the region’s aquifers.

Performance against fresh water withdrawal reduction target7

Performance against fresh water withdrawal reduction target

Integrated water resource management longer-term goal
We made some initial steps towards our longer-term goal to collaborate to enable integrated water resource management in all catchments where we operate by FY2030 (in line with United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 6).

As a first step, we undertook an assessment of water policies (government and regulatory) across the regions where we operate to better understand current approaches.

Our assessment highlighted themes around multi-stakeholder engagement, shared objectives and collaboration, which we will seek to further understand over the coming years.

We have commenced a collaboration with the CEO Water Mandate to support harmonisation of water accounting. This is a critical step towards enhancing transparency and collaboration across all sectors for improved water governance.

Find out more about BHP’s water performance in FY2018.

Water Report 2018

Water Report 2018

 
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Water Report 2018

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