Bobbie Foot, Head of BHP Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA) Health, Safety and Environment, recently spoke to attendees at the United Nations ECE Group of Experts on the impacts of mine closures, specifically on women and young girls.
Bobbie discussed how disadvantaged groups within communities or workforces can be further affected if careful consideration isn't provided as part of the closure planning process.
"It was really an honour to be given the opportunity to speak on a topic that is important to me both professionally but also on a personal level," Bobbie said.
"When mines close there are two key groups that are impacted - the communities and the workforce – and these are usually highly interconnected and overlapping."
"When organisations don’t have the appropriate plans in place, women and young girls can often experience higher levels of social or personal safety issues as well as education and health disadvantages."
Bobbie believes that applying a Social Value approach to mine closure planning can help prevent many of these impacts, highlighting the importance of having stakeholders involved in the planning process to ensure all risks and opportunities are identified.
"BHP is transitioning from Social License to achieving Social Value and we're seeing this start to be integrated across our business plans as well as in our everyday decision-making," Bobbie said.
"Applying Social Value to the closure of mines and other workforce transitions is complex due to the intersection of so many different factors, so it requires high collaboration between industry, government and the community."
"As a business, we need to work transparently with our people, and build resilience well ahead of transitions and I'm really proud of the approach we're taking."
"We received some excellent feedback from not only the UN ECE but also from the other presenters - we even had the Director of Sustainable Development encouraging other organisations to find out more about the Social Value approach BHP is taking!"
Bobbie also spoke to the various roles of organisations, government and communities in closure planning but highlighted the need to ultimately set a vision together and co-design the post-mining land use and economic opportunities.
"We need to apply innovative thinking to build social value into the future as we plan for mine closure and transitions, in a way that empowers and benefits everyone in the community, including women and girls."