Kyrell Rodney web

Indigenous employment target reached ahead of schedule

BHP has achieved its national Indigenous employment target of eight per cent three years ahead of schedule, as reported in its recent half yearly results.

Kyrell Rodney, a former South Hedland High School student, said that he had his career plan all mapped out after spending just one week visiting BHP mine sites through a program called Exploring Pathways, when he was in Year 11.

Now, aged 18, Kyrell is one of BHP’s newest recruits, a few weeks into his electrical apprenticeship with BHP - part of the recent Port Hedland-based apprenticeship intake, of which 59 per cent of the apprentices identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.

BHP has a targeted Indigenous recruitment campaign, which includes a tailored application process to take into account the cultural needs of applicants.

This focus on Indigenous recruitment, combined with BHP’s commitment to the regional communities, is what has allowed BHP to achieve its Indigenous employment target ahead of time.

The target was to achieve eight per cent Indigenous employment across all of the Australian operations by the end of FY2025 but BHP CEO Mike Henry announced in the results that the target had been already been reached.

Mr Henry also pointed to the introduction of seven-day payment terms for Indigenous-owned and other small local business operators, as an important initiative to support those businesses which was introduced last July.

The faster payment of suppliers is important to small business, particularly through the pandemic, and is a significant reduction from the usual 60 or 30 day payment terms for suppliers.

In Western Australia, the Indigenous employment rate is higher than the national average – increasing from 9.2 per cent in 2019 to 10.5 per cent in 2021.

BHP President Minerals Australia Edgar Basto said BHP was committed to creating to a diverse and inclusive workforce and supporting the local communities in which it operates.

“Creating more opportunities for Indigenous people, particularly in the Pilbara and other local communities in which we operate, is an important focus of BHP. Combined with our commitment to accelerated training programs, I am proud that we are providing more opportunities for Indigenous people.”

“Reaching this target ahead of schedule is a great achievement for the whole team but our commitment doesn’t end there - we know there is plenty more work to be done.

Our commitment to the Indigenous community – from employment, engagement with traditional owners and Indigenous businesses –is vital to our ongoing and sustaining relationship with Indigenous and Traditional Owner communities.

Kyrell said he decided in Year 11, inspired by the support and wisdom of BHP electrician and Exploring Pathways mentor Josh Nannup, that an electrical trade with BHP was what he was after.

“After the Exploring Pathways Program in Year 11, I knew I wanted to work at BHP - a year after I graduated, my application for an electrical apprenticeship was accepted,” he said.

“Because the apprentice intake is so diverse, it has been a pretty comfortable and a good environment to work in – there is a lot of diversity in my team, about half of the team is Indigenous” Kyrell said.

Of the 231 apprentices and trainees currently in training at  BHP’s Future Fit Academy in Welshpool, which provides heavy diesel mechanics and mechanical fitters for BHP’s iron ore operations in WA, 20 per cent are Indigenous.