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The ground-up ideas helping us grow

A hands-on program to expedite rehabilitation at our Yandi site in Western Australia’s Pilbara is creating an exciting employment and training pathway for the Traditional Owners of the land, the Banjima people. 

Rehabilitation planning is a process that starts well before resource extraction begins and continues well after. Beyond our environmental and regulatory commitments, we increasingly consider social value by partnering with the community and our stakeholders to determine the final landform and create opportunities during the rehabilitation process. 

With our Yandi site now reaching the end of its life, BHP’s Superintendent Site Rehabilitation, Michelle Adams, is leading a hands-on program which is engaging Traditional Owners. 

In partnership with the Banjima Native Title Aboriginal Corporation, 12 trainee positions have been created in the Site Rehabilitation team at Yandi for Banjima people.  

Offering a combination of specialised classroom learning facilitated by North Regional TAFE and on-the-job training, the program is building knowledge which is expected to be critical to the resources industry in the decades to come. 

At an on-site tree nursery, built and managed end-to-end by the trainees, approximately 600 trees are being progressively planted in the rehabilitation area. Carefully cultivated from unique native seeds supplied by an Indigenous-owned business, the nursery is expected to reach its 20,000 tree capacity within five years. 

But that’s just one part of the story. The other is the value of strong relationships with Traditional Owners – as employees, contractors and other partners. 

For Michelle, while increasing Traditional Owner representation in our business is important to BHP, so is the experience they have with us.  

“It’s about co-designing training, development and employment opportunities over the long-term, as well as supporting the growth of Indigenous-owned companies.” 

It’s a sentiment echoed by Paul Lethbridge, a Banjima man and Site Rehabilitation trainee who joined the program in late 2021 – his first role in the resources industry having previously been a Banjima Ranger. 

Paul feels happier working on his own country and building his skills up. 

“I’m glad the nursery is up and running because there are more trees growing and Mother Nature is coming back to heal the Country.” 

With the first cohort of trainees due to graduate with a Certificate II in Conservation and Ecosystems towards the end of 2022, the qualifications open the door for ongoing opportunities at BHP and in the creation of specialist Indigenous-owned businesses. 

The program, funded by the existing closure provision at Yandi, is being considered for deployment across WAIO and Minerals Australia more broadly.