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Indigenous peoples

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 Indigenous peoples often have profound and special connections to and identification with lands and waters, and 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 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.

Indigenous, hard hat

  • Our approach

    BHP’s Indigenous Peoples Policy Statement articulates our approach to engagement and support for Indigenous peoples.

    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 BHP’s functions and operated assets to have 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 out 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 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 human rights performance.

    The Sustainability Committee receives updates 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. 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.

    Our Indigenous Peoples Policy Statement and Strategy are reviewed regularly, and each region maintains its Indigenous Peoples Plan and reports on progress. We identify, assess and manage risks that BHP may be 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 reviews (at least annually) the effectiveness of the Group’s systems of risk management and internal control.

    We classify all risks to which BHP is exposed using our Group Risk Architecture. This is a tool designed to identify, analyse, monitor and report risk, which provides a platform to understand and manage risks. Similar risks are considered together in groups and categories. Community and Human Rights, which includes Indigenous rights, are represented in the 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 appropriately managed. More information on BHP’s Risk Framework is available here.

    We work to understand and minimise potential adverse impacts on Indigenous peoples, while maximising positive impacts through all phases of a resource life cycle.

    For our operated assets and projects, any relevant research or studies to understand communities where Indigenous peoples are identified as stakeholders aim to include attributes to ensure their rights are respected. These attributes include enabling Indigenous peoples 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 has a global Indigenous engagement team within our global Corporate Affairs function, overseeing and supporting the global, regional and local engagements with Indigenous stakeholders. 

  • Regional Indigenous Peoples Plans

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

    Each plan aligns with the global Indigenous Peoples Strategy and focuses on the local and regional context, operational footprint and relevant Indigenous stakeholders.

    • 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 wellbeing.
    • Minerals America: Indigenous Peoples Plan FY2019-FY2023 – outlines our plan to establish lasting and long-term relationships with Indigenous communities in South America. Through this plan, which is aligned with the International Labour Organisation's convention 169 , we seek to work closely with the communities where we operate to make a positive contribution to the lives of those who live near our operated assets and society in general.
    • North America: the North Americas Indigenous Peoples Plan is being updated to reflect the recent announcements regarding changes to our portfolio in Canada and the United States.
  • Cultural heritage
    Our approach to cultural heritage is underpinned by the BHP Indigenous Peoples Position Statement and our global Indigenous Peoples Strategy. We strive for a sustainable approach to our extractive activities and acknowledge the nature and location of these activities means we may disturb 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 their protection and management.


    We engage 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. See global Indigenous Peoples Strategy

  • Engagement and agreement making
    We acknowledge that Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) is relevant to both the process and the outcome. All BHP agreement-making processes must be built on the core principles of FPIC, including good faith negotiation, with the focus on reaching agreement on the basis for which a project (or changes to existing projects) may proceed.