Mapping of important biodiversity and ecosystems across Minerals Australia

The biodiversity of the areas where we operate across Minerals Australia are complex and vary significantly. A common methodology for identifying biodiversity features across those areas is important to enable consistent identification of features by our asset teams to allow for accurate knowledge in planning and management across the varying biogeographic regions where we work. A biogeographic region is an area of common climate, geology, landform, native vegetation and species. 

There are many different approaches to screening key environmental features, which result in varied data.  In response, BHP worked with Australia’s national science organisation, CSIRO, to create a biodiversity asset register. This tool adopts a definition of ‘Important Biodiversity and Ecosystems’ and implements that using a spatially explicit approach to mapping environmental and biodiversity assets across Australia in a consistent and repeatable format. A spatially explicit approach involves analysing spatial data through a geographic information system to develop quarriable maps. 

The tool includes terrestrial and marine data for each of the Australian regions where BHP operates. For each region, data from across three spatial scales were included, providing a significant data set. The three spatial scales were: BHP’s areas of influence (AOI); inclusion of a 50kilometre buffer; and the biogeographic region that is intersected by the AOI and the 50kilometre buffer. The data design draws on previous learnings from data management for natural capital accounting1 bringing the large data into a single table. 

The biodiversity asset register provides data in a consistent and transparent way that is aligned to international standards (such as those set by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and the International Financial Corporation’s Performance Standard 6: Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Management of Living Natural Resources), and allows the identification of key biodiversity features to be used in planning for BHP’s 2030 Healthy environment goal.  

One of the outputs from the Important Biodiversity and Ecosystems database includes showing the numbers of biodiversity assets (referred to as features) meeting one of the International Finance Corporation (IFC) Performance Standard 6 criteria that were assessed across the BHP bioregional boundaries. 

The tool’s success in Minerals Australia has led to the solution currently being applied in our Minerals Americas operated assets.   

1 ‘Natural capital accounting’ is an umbrella term covering efforts to use an accounting framework to provide a systematic way to measure and report on stocks and flows of natural capital.