BHP increases spend with Indigenous businesses

BHP’s WA Iron Ore (WAIO) operations will increase their annual contracted outlay with Pilbara Traditional Owners and Indigenous businesses.

WAIO Asset President Brandon Craig said this financial year, WAIO is forecast to spend over $140 million directly with more than 70 Indigenous businesses, with the figure expected to more than double by 2023-24 to more than $300 million a year.

“BHP wants to do much more to build sustainable, profitable and enduring partnerships with Indigenous businesses across our operations, and we are working hard at all levels of BHP to make this happen,” he said.

To drive momentum and social value outcomes, WAIO has established Project Rise – a strategic initiative led by senior asset and functions leaders, to facilitate collaboration, alignment and support between BHP and Traditional Owner and Indigenous suppliers.

Coinciding with its launch of Project Rise, BHP announced the signing of a $9.2 million contract with Karlka FenceWright – a wholly owned subsidiary of the Karlka Nyiyaparli Aboriginal Corporation (KNAC).

Under the contract, Karlka will fabricate and install about five kilometres of fencing at six of WAIO’s villages in Newman, which house 1350 fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) workforce residents.

Up to 80 people will be employed on the fencing project and Karlka is seeking to employ Indigenous people in at least 15 per cent of those roles. Many of the fencing panels will feature the work of Traditional Owner, senior Nyiyaparli elder and artist Victor Parker.

The fencing upgrade is part of a $300m security upgrade project across all WAIO camps.

The Karlka contract represents BHP’s commitment to long-term, meaningful relationships with Traditional Owner groups and follows other recent contract awards, valued at over $150 million, including:

  • A five-year contract with Kingkira, a 100 per cent Nyiyaparli-owned and operated business, to deliver road sweeping services across WAIO’s Port Hedland, Newman, and Mining Area C operations
  • A five-year stemming contract awarded to Lorrex, a Banjima and Nyiyaparli owned Indigenous business, currently mobilising to the WAIO Pilbara operations of Mining Area C, South Flank and Jimblebar
  • An award to Ngurrura, a 100 per cent owned and operated Pilbara Aboriginal Traditional Owner company, to recover 44 kilotonnes of crushed ore material from Mining Area C, with more than 70 per cent Aboriginal employment on the project, engaged via the BHP Local Buying Program
  • A long-term partnership extended with North West Alliance (NWA), a Palyku Joint Venture business, to service waste management across the Pilbara Asset

In the year to January 2022, WAIO’s Indigenous procurement spend increased by 44 per cent, with further acceleration anticipated through a growing pipeline of new partnerships and sourcing and economic opportunities for local Traditional Owner and other Indigenous-owned businesses.

To keep up to date with Australian Mining, subscribe to our free email newsletters delivered straight to your inbox. Click here.