We recognise the importance of treating our communities with respect and aim to build trust through open and honest relationships. This helps us achieve a clear understanding of the context and impacts of our activities and informs how we can make a meaningful contribution to economic and social development. Our Code of Conduct and BHP’s Our Requirements standards, including Our Requirements for Community, govern our purpose to bring people and resources together to build a better world. We strive to make a positive contribution to communities where we operate and minimise adverse impacts where these cannot be avoided.
BHP understands that we all have a role to play in understanding and managing social impacts and building resilience through all phases of an operated asset’s life cycle. Our approach has been developed based on standards from the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM), the United Nations (UN) Global Compact and frameworks such as the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) Performance Standards.
We define communities as groups that may be directly affected or impacted by BHP’s activities. This includes individuals and communities not living directly in a project area but who rely on the area for a particular reason (such as for sustenance or income), or who have a significant connection to the area (such as for cultural, religious, spiritual, historical or family reasons). We recognise our exploration, projects, operated assets, activities, closed and legacy assets (legacy assets refers to those BHP-operated assets, or part thereof, located in the Americas that are in the closure phase) can affect communities, but also create opportunities for BHP to contribute to social value.
The Our Requirements for Community standard requires all our operated assets to implement actions to better understand communities, effectively plan and implement our commitments and evaluate and measure our performance (refer to the diagram below). This standard outlines the mandatory minimum performance requirements for regularly reviewing potentially affected communities; community and human rights due diligence, including baseline research and impact assessments; due diligence around engagement activities; and complaints and grievance mechanisms. This work is overseen by the Chief Legal, Governance and External Affairs Officer. The day-to-day implementation of the requirements is managed by Corporate Affairs team members across BHP. The Our Requirements for Community standard applies to all employees and contractors.
Through regular engagement and social research, we seek to understand the expectations, concerns and interests of the communities affected by our operated assets and identify their areas of priority. We recognise the significance of two-way dialogue in highlighting concerns and perspectives and considering stakeholder perspectives is a core element of our approach.
By assessing the social, economic, political, security and environmental factors affecting communities, we aim to identify and monitor emerging social trends, better manage social impacts and risks (including reputational risks) associated with our operations and contribute to social value. We work with communities to identify social needs and how we can better use existing resources. We then partner with appropriate organisations to deliver community projects and monitor progress and performance consistently.
We engage regularly with investors, civil society, communities, Indigenous stakeholders, human rights experts and industry associations to enhance our understanding of current social expectations, trends and perceptions relating to stakeholders, human rights and the real or perceived impacts of our activities on communities. We also engage with other industry participants to understand our collective impact and how to more effectively address it together.
We recognise our responsibility to contribute to and avoid adverse impacts on the health, safety and wellbeing of communities. With no significant community events recorded as resulting from BHP operated activities in FY2022, our five-year target of no significant community events between FY2018 and FY2022 has been met.1 Our 2030 goal is to partner with communities and stakeholders to co-create and implement plans that deliver jointly defined economic, social and environmental outcomes. To read more about out 2030 goals, refer to the BHP Operating and Financial Review 2 – Delivering value and on the Sustainability Approach webpage.
BHP’s Board oversees our approach to sustainability. The Board’s Sustainability Committee assists the Board in its oversight of the Group’s health, safety, environmental and community (HSEC) matters. The Sustainability Committee advises the Board on the adequacy of the Group’s HSEC Framework, HSEC management systems and governance of HSEC matters, along with the Group’s HSEC performance under those systems. This includes consideration of both existing HSEC issues, such as climate change, safety and Indigenous and human rights, as well as emerging areas of HSEC risk for the Group.
Our internal audit processes periodically check compliance with the Our Requirements standards. We regularly review our approach to working with communities and our understanding and management of the risks and impacts on communities. Updates on emerging social and community issues and trends are provided to the Sustainability Committee. Our Risk team reports biannually to a joint meeting of the Board’s Risk and Audit Committee and Sustainability Committee on the Group’s material risk profile, including HSEC risks.
The Board’s Risk and Audit Committee monitors and, at least annually, reviews the effectiveness of the Group’s systems of risk management and internal control.
To understand and manage the risks BHP may be exposed to, we use our Group Risk Architecture, which is a tool to identify, analyse, monitor and report risk. Community and human rights, which includes Indigenous rights, are represented in the Group Risk Architecture, supporting the identification of new exposures and the assessment of community and human rights impacts on existing exposures. We assess risks, then apply appropriate controls at an operational, functional or Group level and review performance to enable risks to be appropriately managed. For more information, see Operating and Financial Review 9 - How we manage risk.
Our internal audit processes periodically check compliance with the Our Requirements standards.
1 A significant event resulting from BHP operated activities is one with an actual severity rating of four or above, based on our internal severity rating scale (tiered from one to five by increasing severity) as defined in our mandatory minimum performance requirements for risk management.
Responding to stakeholder concerns and access to remedy
BHP recognises the nature of our business activities can create concerns. All our operated assets are required to have a complaints and grievance mechanism that meets criteria in line with the United Nations (UN) Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (Article 31, Effectiveness Criteria for Non-Judicial Grievance Mechanisms). This is aimed at ensuring all mechanisms:
- are scaled to the country context, risks and potential adverse impacts
- address concerns promptly
- use an understandable and transparent process that is culturally appropriate and readily accessible to all segments of the affected communities
- undertake appropriate remedial actions where a complaint is legitimate
- are available without retribution
- do not impede access to judicial or administrative remedies
EthicsPoint is our confidential reporting tool that is accessible to all, including external stakeholders and the public, to report conduct that may be unethical, illegal or inconsistent with Our Code of Conduct.
In FY2021, we established globally consistent principles for complaints and grievance mechanisms that align with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and apply to how we develop complaints and grievance mechanisms to enable relevant social contexts to be considered. In FY2022, we built on this work, seeking to engage external stakeholders more deliberately in the design and review of our mechanisms, with a particular focus on improvements from a cultural appropriateness perspective and adding additional channels for community stakeholders to raise concerns or complaints.
In addition, in FY2022 we focused on addressing barriers that may inhibit the transparent reporting of community concerns, complaints or grievances from a variety of different perspectives, including systems, understanding and cultural or behavioural considerations. This work will continue during FY2022, with a variety of improvement opportunities identified for implementation.
Complaints and grievances and community or human rights events are recorded in BHP’s event management system. The system includes categories for community complaints and grievances relating to amenity, behaviour, human rights and Indigenous rights. This year we also made architecture changes within the event management system to allow more accurate reporting of cultural heritage ‘near misses’.
Such enhancements allow us to improve our investigation, management and analysis of issues and impacts on communities. Any entries relating to Our Code of Conduct breaches are required to be referred for review by our Ethics and Investigations team.
Community concerns raised in FY2022
There were 50 community concerns and 106 complaints (five of which were classified as grievances)1 received globally across our operated assets through our local complaints and grievance mechanisms. This represented a total increase of 8 per cent from FY2021 figures. The increase is attributable in large part to an overall rise in the level of community reporting, which we consider to be a positive sign that provides earlier opportunities to seek to address issues and understand sentiment to avoid or reduce the adverse impact and risk of escalation.
These concerns, complaints and grievances included:
- The two most common themes across BHP operated assets were concerns regarding: (i) the continued impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and associated recovery initiatives; and (ii) local employment.
- In Chile, community concerns focused on environmental impacts and the overall sustainability of the mining industry, the development of local communities and the impacts of automation. Complaints about contractor behaviour included claims that certain commitments were not honoured and some local Indigenous community stakeholders raised concerns about water resources in the high Andean wetlands and greater employment opportunities at Escondida.
- In Canada, community concerns and complaints related to the increase in activity at the Jansen Potash Project, including routes of haul trucks and greater community support and local procurement opportunities.
- In Australia, key community issues centred on local employment and associated skills and labour shortages, the impact on local procurement from supply chain delays, and our COVID-19 vaccination mandate with particular mental health and wellbeing concerns raised by Traditional Owners. Community complaints also related to operational impacts, largely lighting, dust, noise, odour, emissions, blasting overpressure and vibration.
- Following the announcement of the divestment of our interest in BMC, some local stakeholders focused on whether community support would continue under new ownership and the local Traditional Owners sought assurance that the Indigenous Land Use Agreement would be honoured by the new owners.
- The announcement that BHP would retain New South Wales Energy Coal and intends to proceed with a managed process to cease mining at the asset by the end of FY2030 was received in a neutral to positive manner overall, with community stakeholders generally expressing support for BHP retaining the asset to a managed closure rather than selling to new owners.
We work collaboratively with local, regional and national stakeholder groups to enable people to express their views and experiences. This shared dialogue helps inform our decision-making on issues that are important to the communities where we operate, develop appropriate responses to seek to resolve concerns and identify new opportunities that can support local aspirations.
1 An event or community complaint relating to an adverse impact/event that has escalated to the point where a third-party intervention or adjudication is required to resolve it.
Below is an overview of community concerns relating to BHP’s operated assets raised in FY2022.
Land tenure and useBHP seeks to identify customary owners, occupiers and users of land where we intend to operate. Knowing how the land is used and who is connected to the land means people potentially affected can be made aware of our activities and have an opportunity to express their concerns and aspirations.
Changing the way we recruit at Escondida
A plan designed to increase female representation at our Escondida operation in Chile is changing the way we approach recruitment, especially for technical roles.
Improving childcare in the Pilbara
BHP and Child Australia are working together to ease the strain of a shortage of available childcare, a constraint in attracting and retaining residential staff at our operations and an issue for the broader community.
Mitigating concerns through community collaboration
The community living in Sierra Gorda, a small town in Chile, have raised concerns about air quality resulting from the three mining companies that are operating nearby. BHP’s copper mine, Spence, is proactively working with the community to address their concerns.