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Our approach to closure

In recognition of the potentially significant financial, environmental and climate-related and social risks associated with future closure of our operations, we are committed to integrating closure into our planning, decision-making and activities through the entire life cycle of our operated assets.

BHP’s closure objective is to deliver optimised closure outcomes for our operated assets in consultation with local communities and other stakeholders. Optimised closure outcomes are those that minimise adverse impacts and maximise post-closure value. We implement our objective by following the closure management process, which is designed to integrate with our short and long-term planning processes for operated assets.  

Our closure management process is set out in our mandatory minimum performance requirements for closure, which take into consideration our social and environmental values, obligations, safety, costs, risks (both threats and opportunities) and the expectations of external stakeholders to inform an optimised closure outcome.

As part of the closure management process, BHP operated assets are required to prepare and maintain a closure management plan that balances business and external stakeholder interests and meets the following closure objectives:

  • comply with our obligations, legal requirements and BHP mandatory minimum performance requirements for closure
  • achieve safe and stable outcomes
  • effectively manage risks (both threats and opportunities)
  • meet approved target environmental outcomes by following the Our Requirements for Environment and Climate Change standard
  • progressively reduce obligations, including progressive closure of the area disturbed by our operational footprint
  • manage and optimise closure costs

We apply BHP’s Risk Framework to our closure management process to appropriately identify and manage closure risks (both threats and opportunities) in our closure management plans. Our closure management plans are also required to include long-term monitoring to verify that any controls implemented are effective and performance standards achieved and maintained after operations cease.

We engage with stakeholders to develop our closure management plans and require closure alternatives and opportunities to be considered for every site, including on-going management, alternative land uses (that may include re-purposing the site or re-purposing facilities from our sites, for enduring environmental and social benefits), responsible divestment and relinquishment. In addition to environmental rehabilitation, closure outcomes may include recreational or other community uses.

We regularly review our process to progressively close areas that are no longer required for operational purposes and update our closure management plans and practices as required with knowledge obtained from onsite experience across BHP and leading practice from the global industry.

Properly managing environmental risks, such as to biodiversity and water resources following closure, can be a significant challenge to our industry. To minimise potential adverse environmental impacts post-closure, we require the Our Requirements for Environment and Climate Change standard to be followed for key elements of the closure management process.

We require the Our Requirements for Community standard to be followed to minimise adverse social impacts on the communities in which we operate and help to contribute to economic and social development and enhancement in a manner that is sustainable post-closure.

Charting a course towards leading practice

Subject matter experts at our Technical Centre of Excellence develop and assure our technical standards, share leading practice, provide technical training, enhance capacity across the business, provide access to the latest research, and support continual improvement in our business systems. The Technical Centre of Excellence has developed standards across BHP in mine planning, geotechnical, tailings management, water management and closure management, which enables effective integration across key resource engineering disciplines and supports achievement of leading practice in closure management.

The Technical Centre of Excellence collaborates with international experts and participates in industry forums to share knowledge and benchmark performance to enable our operated assets to employ leading practice resource engineering. We actively participate in industry bodies focused on closure aspects, including the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) Closure Working Group and the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA) Decommissioning Committee.

Our closure governance framework

Our governance framework for closure is designed to integrate resource planning and development; health, safety, environmental, community and social considerations; stakeholder engagement; risk; finance; and assurance in the operational design throughout our operated assets’ life cycle.

Our Internal Audit and Advisory team periodically tests the effectiveness of the closure management plan at each of our operated assets, with findings provided to the Board’s Risk and Audit Committee.

We make financial provisions, subject to rigorous controls and assurance, to enable agreed closure and post-closure commitments to be realised. Information about BHP’s financial provisions related to rehabilitation and closure liabilities is available in our Annual Report.

BHP reports on land disturbance and rehabilitation activities in our annual public reporting.

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