community, family, smiling

Local communities

Our approach


We endeavour to treat all stakeholders with respect and 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 the Our Requirements for Community standard govern and aspiration 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 and human rights 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, the International Petroleum Industry Environmental Conservation Association (IPIECA) 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 social research and studies, including social impact and opportunity assessments; human rights impact assessments; community perception surveys; 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.

Our collaborative community approach.  

Through regular engagement and data collected from community perception surveys and other 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 and we have a five-year (FY2018-FY2022) public target of zero significant community events.(1)

BHP’s Board oversees our approach to sustainability. The Board’s Sustainability Committee has oversight of health, safety, environmental and community (HSEC) matters, including human rights, and assists the Board with governance and monitoring. The Sustainability Committee also oversees the adequacy of the systems designed to identify and manage HSEC-related risks and overall HSEC and other human rights performance.

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, and any changes to our community approach are provided to the Sustainability Committee. Our Risk function reports biannually to a joint meeting of the Board’s Risk and Audit Committee and Sustainability Committee on the Group’s 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 apply a 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, enabling 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 a site, functional or Group level and review performance to enable risks to be appropriately managed.

Our internal audit processes periodically check compliance with the  Our Requirements standards.


(1) A significant event resulting from BHP-operated activities is one that carries 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.


BHP and local communities

  • 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.

    Complaints and grievances and community or human rights events are recorded in the BHP Event Management System. The system includes categories for community complaints and grievances relating to amenity, behaviour, human rights and Indigenous rights. This allows 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 Compliance team. In 2021, we completed an exercise to improve the quality of reporting of community concerns, complaints and grievances via the BHP Event Management System. This has helped improve the quality of how we report community concerns, complaints and grievances.


    Community concerns raised in FY2021

    In FY2021, the primary areas of focus for communities where we operate centred around the impact and recovery from COVID-19, local employment and procurement, environmental sustainability and community support. Our Environment team is working with communities, government, business and civil society on projects that aim to improve water governance and address water challenges by focusing on shared spiritual, cultural, recreational, ecological and economic values.

    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.

    Below is an overview of community concerns relating to BHP’s operated assets raised in FY2021.


    community concerns by region
  • Land tenure and use
    BHP 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.
nature of work case study banner

The changing nature of work

BHP is working to support communities to transition to new ways of working and thrive in this changing environment.

Working with our people and communities through challenging times

The communities where we operate are one of the bedrocks of our business. How we support them to respond to the challenges they face can play a significant role in their future prosperity and livelihood.


To me that's big

What’s big means different things to different people. To us, it means supporting people and communities all across Australia.