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Our position

Indigenous peoples are critical partners and stakeholders for BHP.

Many of our operated assets are located on or near lands traditionally owned by or under the customary use of Indigenous peoples. We aim to recognise and respect the rights of Indigenous peoples and embrace the opportunity to establish respectful, long-lasting relationships through which we seek meaningful engagement, trust and mutual benefit.

We understand that Indigenous peoples often have profound and special connections to, and identification with, lands and waters, and that these are tied to their physical, spiritual, cultural and economic wellbeing. We also understand Indigenous peoples in many regions of the world have been historically disadvantaged and often still experience various forms of social exclusion.

We recognise that our activities impact on Indigenous peoples and we are committed to working together to ensure BHP is an enabling partner with Indigenous peoples and that we positively contribute to the realisation of the rights of Indigenous peoples. 

Our approach

BHP’s Indigenous Peoples Policy Statement articulates our approach to engagement and support for Indigenous peoples and our commitment to the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) Position Statement on Indigenous Peoples and Mining. Our Indigenous Peoples Strategy guides the implementation of our Policy Statement across our global operations and provides a consistent, Group-wide framework for respecting the rights of Indigenous peoples and enhancing their interests. The Strategy focuses our engagement with Indigenous peoples in four priority areas: governance; economic empowerment; social and cultural support; and public engagement. The strategy is supported by the Good Practice Guidance that sets benchmarks for our performance in relation to specific elements of each priority area of our global Indigenous Peoples Strategy.

The global Indigenous Peoples Strategy, in alignment with the Our Requirements for Community standard, requires that BHP’s functions and operated assets put in place complaints and grievance mechanisms that are culturally appropriate and accessible for Indigenous peoples. Consulting with Indigenous peoples and seeking to work in partnership with respect to our activities strengthens BHP’s ability to contribute to a full realisation of the rights of Indigenous peoples, which in turn helps contribute to meaningful and ongoing social value.

Our Code of Conduct sets out the expectations and standards of behaviour for our people, as well as contractors and suppliers (where under relevant contractual obligation). This includes the recognition of the traditional rights of Indigenous peoples and acknowledges their right to maintain their culture, identity, traditions and customs. Our Human Rights Policy Statement sets the human rights commitments for BHP, including respecting Indigenous peoples’ rights.

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

The Sustainability Committee receives an annual update on our approach to working with Indigenous peoples, including progress against our public sustainability target to implement our global Indigenous Peoples Strategy across all our operated assets by FY2022, any significant changes in the regulatory environment, stakeholder expectations, risks and potential impacts that have been identified and any changes to our approach. The 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. Our Indigenous Peoples Policy Statement and Strategy are reviewed regularly and each region maintains their Regional Indigenous Peoples Plan and reports progress.

We identify, assess and manage risks that BHP is exposed to, including risks associated with Indigenous peoples and their rights, by applying our single framework (known as the Risk Framework). The Risk and Audit Committee monitors and, at least annually, reviews the effectiveness of the Group’s systems of risk management and internal control.

In order to understand and manage the risks to which BHP is exposed, we have a Group Risk Architecture, which is a tool to identify, analyse, monitor and report risk. Community and human rights, which captures Indigenous rights, are Group Risks within the Environment, climate change and community Group Risk category of our Group Risk Architecture. This tool helps us to identify current risks (which may be strategic or operational in nature), as well as emerging risks, that are associated with these Group Risks. We assess risks, apply appropriate controls at a site, functional or Group level and review performance to enable risks to be properly managed. More information on BHP’s Risk Framework is available here.

We are committed to understanding and minimising potential adverse impacts on Indigenous peoples, while maximising positive impacts, through all phases of a resource life cycle.

For operated assets and projects, any relevant research or studies to understand communities where Indigenous peoples are identified as stakeholders aims to include attributes to ensure that Indigenous peoples’ rights are respected. These include that Indigenous peoples are able to participate in the design and implementation of the study and that all consultation and documentation through all phases is delivered in an accessible language, format and culturally appropriate manner.

BHP’s Global Indigenous Peoples Working Group (GIPWG) was established in 2016 and consists of representatives from across the global operations, including Minerals Australia, Minerals America and our Group functions.

The GIPWG, chaired by the Group Sustainability and Public Policy Officer, meets regularly to:

  • develop, govern and manage the implementation of our Indigenous Peoples Policy Statement and Strategy
  • identify opportunities to position BHP as a global leader in working with Indigenous peoples
  • provide global and cross-functional leadership to promote a consistent position on our work with Indigenous peoples
  • support regional teams to develop and implement Regional Indigenous Peoples Plans


Regional Indigenous Peoples Plans

One of our public five-year sustainability targets (FY2018-FY2022) is for each of our regions to have an active Indigenous Peoples Plan that operationalises our global Indigenous Peoples Strategy.

Each plan is to align with the global Indigenous Peoples Strategy and prioritise the local and regional context, operational footprint and relevant Indigenous stakeholders. Implementation is supported by a Regional Indigenous Peoples Working Group.

For further information on the Regional Indigenous Peoples Plans and activities across each region, please see:

  • Minerals Australia: Reconciliation Action Plan 2017-2021 – reflects our approach to working with Indigenous peoples in Australia. Through our commitment to this plan, we acknowledge and respect the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and will contribute to their sustainable, long-term economic empowerment and social and cultural well-being.
  • Minerals America: Indigenous Peoples Plan FY2019-FY2023 – which outlines our plan to establish lasting and long-term relationships with Indigenous communities in South America. Through this plan, which is aligned with the ILO 169, we seek to work closely with these host communities to make a positive contribution to the lives of those who live near our operated assets and society in general.
  • North America: North America Indigenous Peoples Plan – which describes our approach to engaging with Indigenous peoples in North America and how we will take a strengths-based approach to better supporting Indigenous peoples in the areas in which we operate. It outlines how we will take a collaborative, transparent and measurable approach.
Cultural heritage

Our approach to cultural heritage is underpinned by our commitment to the ICMM Position Statement on Indigenous Peoples and Mining, the BHP Indigenous Peoples Position Statement and our global Indigenous Peoples Strategy. We strive for a sustainable approach to our extractive activities and acknowledge that the nature and location of these activities means that we may impact on cultural heritage. We seek to avoid or minimise impacts to cultural heritage, through planning and ongoing consultation with Indigenous communities. Our processes provide opportunities for Indigenous stakeholders to identify those sites, places, structures and objects that are culturally or traditionally significant and to be consulted and engaged in relation to decisions regarding the protection and management of those sites.

We require each of our operated assets to implement a framework for identifying, documenting and managing aspects of cultural significance, aligned with our approach to environmental management, meeting legal and regulatory requirements and through engagement with Indigenous stakeholders.

We engage extensively with Indigenous peoples to understand their environmental, social and cultural development priorities. We seek to ensure Indigenous people benefit from our presence over the long term, and that we obtain their views as we progress through each stage of development. Our processes for consultation provide opportunities for Indigenous stakeholders to identify, map and agree on those sites, places, structures and objects that are culturally or traditionally significant and require protection or action to mitigate impacts.

See global Indigenous Peoples Strategy.

Engagement and agreement making

Aligned with BHP’s commitment to the ICMM Position Statement on Indigenous Peoples and Mining, we acknowledge that Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) is both a process and an outcome. All BHP engagement and agreement-making processes must be built on the core principles of FPIC, including good faith negotiation (consistent with commitments under the ICMM Position Statement on Indigenous Peoples and Mining), with the focus on reaching agreement on the basis for which a project (or changes to existing projects) should proceed. .

See global Indigenous Peoples Strategy.

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