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Sourcing the copper required for our future

Good morning … it’s a great pleasure to join you all today. 

I would like to acknowledge the Kaurna people who are the Traditional Owners of the land on which we meet today.

The Kokatha people who are the Traditional Owners of the land in which Olympic Dam operates

The Arabana and Dieri people, who are the Traditional Owners of the land in which our water infrastructure is situated

And the Barngarla, Kuyani & Kaurna  people, the communities we also partner with

I would like to pay my respects to their elders, past and present … and their leaders of the future

And extend that respect to all First Nations Peoples here with us today.

For those of you in the room I haven’t met yet, my name is Jennifer Purdie and I have been in the Asset President role at Olympic Dam for about 8 months.

Since moving here from Brisbane, I have been hugely impressed by everything that Adelaide and South Australia have to offer… and I’m looking forward to my husband joining me to live in Adelaide with the youngest of our three children at the end of the school year. 

I have been particularly impressed with what I have seen around the quality of the educational institutions, the food and wine culture both in and around Adelaide, the variety and beauty in the natural environment and the diversity and capability of the local communities in and around our operations at Olympic Dam. 

I’m excited at the prospect of getting out and about more in the region with my family in the coming months.

It has been made very apparent to me since I started in the role… just how significant Olympic Dam is to South Australia… and indeed the wider world…and how many people want us to be successful.

We have a lot in our favour right now – there is strong demand for copper as a future-facing commodity, prices at the highest they have been in the last 10 years, and BHP has been investing in our asset to position us for the future.

I see that our challenge… and our opportunity ahead… is to ensure our operations are safe, reliable, predictable and sustainable, so we can fulfil our purpose of delivering sustainable copper to our customers around the world for many years to come. 

We aren’t alone in our pursuit of this opportunity.

I recognise that BHP joins about 130 companies in the state that explore, develop and mine for copper in South Australia. 

We’re in excellent company! 

All in all it has been a very smooth transition into the role at OD – my first role with Australia’s leading mining company, BHP. 

Olympic Dam’s Leadership Team is made up of experienced and passionate individuals who are committed to our asset and its purpose. 

We are working tirelessly to be the best team we can be in the delivery of that purpose. 

This has provided a strong foundation… and in the past financial year our team delivered record production results, our best since BHP’s acquisition of Olympic Dam from WMC in 2005. 

We’re so proud of what our one team – with people located in Adelaide, on site and our team mates across BHP – have achieved …and we’re determined to keep things headed in the right direction. 

As a history-lover and someone who wants to learn from what’s happened in the past … I get quite inspired by the story of Olympic Dam’s discovery. 

The tenacity of those early minerals explorers…a diverse team trying again and again guided by innovation, scientific thinking and curiosity… and the spirit of not giving up in the face of adversity and set backs… is in Olympic Dam’s DNA. 

My team and I are channelling that same energy, curiosity, innovative thinking and determination to be our best as we set up Olympic Dam for long-term stable, reliable and predictable operation that meets the expectations of our stakeholders and makes them proud of us. 

As we work to make the most of our asset, and show ourselves and others what we are capable of, we will create a legacy that lasts for generations and benefits so many people and communities across the state. 

BHP is proud to operate in South Australia, and we want South Australia to be proud of us! 

Technology and innovation 

For those of you in the room who haven’t had the pleasure of seeing our operation, Olympic Dam is made up of underground and surface operations and operates a fully integrated processing facility from ore to metals.

We have been operating at Olympic Dam since 1988 – over 30 years - and although we still have decades of mine life ahead of us, many of our assets are aging. 

BHP has invested, and is continuing to invest, billions of dollars of capital into Olympic Dam to modernise our assets for the next 30 years and beyond. 
In FY21 for example, BHP spent around $500 million right here in South Australia, which includes our spend with the Local Buy Program. 

And while the asset integrity of our plant is very important … we must continue on our journey to innovate and find better, safer and more sustainable ways of doing things. 

At our underground mine for instance, we are changing the way we map the 700km or so of underground roads and tunnels. 

Just for context, 700kms is about the same as driving from Adelaide to Streaky Bay! 

As you can imagine that’s an enormous amount of ground to cover under the earth’s surface, in darkness. 

To assist us, we have partnered with Emesent, an Australian tech company who have developed the Hovermap system. 

The Hovermap system enables pilotless drone flights and enhances scanning capabilities across the mine.  

We’re able to capture data in seemingly inaccessible areas and it’s a real value-add proposition… bringing us new insights, particularly in stope characterisation. 

Our partnership is providing a safer solution for our people, significant cost savings and better quality data. 

We’re really proud of this partnership, and it continues to grow! 

We’ve gone on to test and trial Emesent’s latest capabilities to support the next generation of this exciting tech.  

Now all this investment in equipment and technology, doesn’t take away the need for talented and passionate people.  

Recently I was talking to a former colleague from another mining company who had been working with us as an advisor at Olympic Dam.  He shared with me that there were two aspects that really struck him in his work at OD. 

One was the tantalising deposit – the complexity and potential was something that he had not seen before in a long mining career. The other aspect that he had not seen before was the depth of excellence in our talent.  

His observations reflect my perceptions of what is our true competitive advantage at OD. 

Our strategy across BHP to make the most of this competitive advantage is the BHP Operating System, or BOS, which draws on lean principles to give us a way of working to keep all of our people safe and drive innovation in everything we do.

The goal is to make improvement central to everyone’s role, and empower our employees to take ownership of what they do.

The team working at our Surface operations recently became the benchmark across BHP’s Minerals Australia group for using BOS to change the way we work and deliver value – and this has resulted in some fantastic examples of our people taking pride in their work, and working safer and better than ever before.  

Now the focus has moved to the Underground operations and we are waiting in anticipation to see what they can do, building on the success of their colleagues.

Collaboration with South Australia

As I said earlier, our strategy is to set up Olympic Dam for long-term stable, reliable and predictable operation that meets the expectations of our stakeholders and makes them proud of us. 

Our intent is to create a legacy and benefit people and communities across our state.  

Last year, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, BHP moved to quicker payment terms as a temporary measure to support small, local and indigenous businesses. 

It was just one tangible way of showing our appreciation for the support of our communities over our history, and helping these businesses through a challenging period. 

Now, following the overwhelming positive feedback from our supply partners, we’ve reinstated seven-day fast tracked payments for small, local and indigenous businesses.  

It’s amazing to think that across our global operations BHP spends approximately US$2.0 billion with small, local and indigenous businesses each and every year. 

We’re really proud of the seven-day payment terms initiative because it makes a big impact … and it provides direct benefit to our supplier network right here in South Australia… and a time when they need it most. 

Of course, our Olympic Dam community also extends to our contracting partners. 

In the lead up to the 20 year rebuild of our flash furnace in this smelter maintenance campaign – SCM21 – the team has actively been seeking out opportunities for local, small and indigenous businesses to be part of the action. 

The project team recently awarded a AU$1.8 million contract for refuelling services to Zancott Knight. 

Zancott Knight are a local, indigenous-owned company – closely connected to the Arabana (a-ra-bahn-na) community. 

Zancott Knight have brought in a sub-contracting partner WB Enterprises who are closely connected to the Kokatha (cook-A-tha) community – these groups making up two of our Traditional Owner partners Olympic Dam engages with. 

It benefits the team at Zancott Knight, and the SCM21 project team, and enables us to deliver on aspects of our Reconciliation Action Plan. 

Strengthening our relationships with Traditional Owners is one of our key priorities for myself and the Olympic Dam team this year.  

We are working on building positive and collaborative relationships with Indigenous people and continue to learn and improve on this

We are working with the Kokatha (cook-A-tha), Barngarla, (bahn-ga-la), Kuyani ( Key-ahn-ee), Dieri (di-air-ri) and Arabana (a-ra-bahn-na) peoples throughout the

Upper Spencer Gulf because we know that our work to fully realise Olympic Dam’s potential can only be delivered when we have strong and mutually beneficial relationships with our Traditional Owners. 

What does the future hold for Olympic Dam

I believe our path to the future will be built on our current strategy of safe, reliable, predictable and sustainable operations… coupled with strong and collaborative relationships with the stakeholders in our SA community. 

This encompasses our traditional owners, employees, communities, businesses and supply chain… and of course government at State and Federal level as well as our BHP shareholders.  

I mentioned earlier that BHP is proud to operate in this part of the world … to produce the products that are essential to a decarbonised economy of the future. 

Global megatrends such as vehicle electrification and our increased use of renewable energy are already accelerating the demand for copper and Olympic Dam is a very important component of BHP’s portfolio to fuel our global green energy future.

The Oak Dam prospect as well as other announcements from other local explorers tells us that there’s a high likelihood of even more exciting mineral deposits here in South Australia. 

We are thinking about the orebodies in the region that are being uncovered through ongoing exploration programs and how they may contribute to our growth … in conjunction with the options that the Olympic Dam orebody provides … and which we continue to explore through our drilling programs.

The thought I would like to leave you with today, is that for Olympic Dam to realise its potential to deliver sustainable copper to the world for future generations is we are going to need strong relationships right across the ecosystem that we are part of in South Australia – made up of traditional owners, employees, communities, contractors, our supply chain, the broader business community, and of course governments at all levels. 

We want to understand the aspirations of all our stakeholders, and how we can work together to achieve our common goals.

We have appreciated your support over the last 33 years and we are relying on your ongoing partnership as we increase the significance of this copper rich region globally and together deliver copper to the world.   

Thank you.