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Culture Change Driving Improved Performance at Olympic Dam

Culture change at Olympic Dam is delivering improved results for BHP Billiton’s team in South Australia according to Asset President Olympic Dam, Jacqui McGill.

Speaking at an American Chamber of Commerce lunch in Adelaide today, Ms McGill reflected on the past year, noting the raft of challenges the Asset faced just twelve months ago from both a safety and operational perspective.  She explained how these were addressed by making changes to organisational design and operational improvements.

“We took some strong decisions quite early – we made significant changes underground to reduce the risks our team members were exposed to,” Ms McGill said. 

“We continued to operate the mine at full capacity, which enabled us to build inventory, and we took the opportunity to do significant maintenance in the surface plant while we had the time.

“We also invested significant resources into reviewing the design of our organisation.  This redesign has been monumental in changing how we work and in delivering value.  It led us to simplifying our organisation – we went to a two General Manager structure and increased the scope of our Managers and Superintendents.”

However, Ms McGill went on to say that the most important factor in delivering results was focusing on leadership and creating the right culture.

“When you have a culture that gets “why” you are doing something rather than telling them “what” to do and “how” to do it – you build leadership at all levels of the business,” she said.

“When you understand the overarching goal, you get 100 per cent of your team working on the right problem – silos disappear and discretionary effort increases.”

Citing a range of examples where Olympic Dam employees had stepped up and implemented changes that have improved operational performance, Jacqui reported Olympic Dam was now regularly delivering production against the mine plans.  

“This is more than that just good news for BHP Billiton and the 3,000 Olympic Dam employees and contractors. As a major contributor to South Australia’s economy – spending over A$580 million with South Australian suppliers and paying over A$70 million in royalties and taxes in the 2015 financial year – these results are also good news for the State more broadly,” Ms McGill said.

“They demonstrate that it’s possible to operate a globally competitive mine and processing plant right here in South Australia – which supports my strong view that this State is not only a great place to live, but also a fantastic place to do business.”

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