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Building partnerships with Indigenous peoples


Aim: Indigenous peoples will derive significant and sustainable benefit from BHP operations through the effective governance and management of land access, cultural heritage, agreement making and benefit distribution processes.

Example: Opportunity Agreements in Chile

An important and, in the Chilean context, innovative part of the Indigenous participation and dialogue process was the negotiation and development by Cerro Colorado of Opportunity Agreements with the Indigenous communities, in September 2015. Opportunity Agreements are not standard practice in Chile and this presented an opportunity for BHP to demonstrate its commitment to engagement with Indigenous peoples.

The Opportunity Agreements in Chile were signed by all the communities with whom we negotiated. An extensive consultation process was conducted to formally engage the communities, create a dialogue process framework and to implement sustainable community development plans. Through these plans, developed autonomously by each community, projects associated with focus areas such as education, environment, cultural heritage and tourism development are underway, which positively impact the quality of life and strengthen the relationship with BHP.

Economic empowerment

Aim: BHP will contribute to the economic empowerment of Indigenous peoples through providing opportunities for employment, training, procurement and Indigenous enterprise support.

Example: Indigenous Development Program BHP’s Australian operations run the Indigenous Development Program to create a pipeline of future Indigenous leaders.

Since FY2015, 69 people have successfully completed the course, which focuses on building confidence, resilience and motivation, and creates opportunities for exposure through mentoring, networking and development and delivery of continuous improvement projects. Outcomes for the alumni at least six months after completion are positive, with 35 per cent successfully achieving a role change and 55 per cent undertaking roles that are more senior.

Social and cultural support

Aim: BHP will contribute to improved quality of life for Indigenous peoples through voluntary social investment, promotion of Indigenous culture and building the Indigenous cultural awareness of our workforce.

Example: Maintaining a strong connection to country Western Australia Iron Ore launched Martulu Palyalu: Strong Country, Strong Culture in February 2017, a special partnership with Newman-based Indigenous organisation, Kanyirninpa Jukurrpa (KJ), and the Martu people.

The partnership supports the employment of over 260 Martu people, 40 per cent of whom are women, largely as Indigenous Rangers, utilising traditional ecological knowledge integrated with contemporary natural resource management techniques

Public engagement

Aim: BHP will contribute to specific initiatives, programs and public policy processes that advance the interests of Indigenous peoples consistent with our Indigenous Peoples Policy Statement.

Example: Global Indigenous Peoples Conference BHP sponsored the Common Roots, Common Futures: International Indigenous Governance Conference in Australia in March 2017. The three-day conference brought together leading Indigenous governance leaders, practitioners and researchers from Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the United States for a cross-country conversation about Indigenous self-governance.

The goal of the conference was to share governance experiences, stories, strategies, challenges and solutions to better understand the conditions involved in governing and sustaining socio-economic development on Indigenous lands. It aimed to stimulate new thinking and innovative practices in the arena that can assist Indigenous people to meet their contemporary needs and aspirations.