BHP has reinforced its commitment to safety after failing to identify the cause of a fatality at BHP Mitsubishi Alliance (BMA)’s Saraji mine on New Year’s Eve last year.
The mining giant couldn’t determine the definitive cause of a fatality for the first time in 15 years, BHP chairman Ken MacKenzie, speaking at the company’s annual general meeting (AGM), said.
This incident, which caused the death of one worker, also contributed to BHP chief executive Andrew Mackenzie’s first pay cut this year since taking reign as CEO in 2013.
BHP is working to implement a number of “improvement areas” identified in its incident investigation, according to MacKenzie.
“We believe that a zero fatality workplace is possible and we will do all we can to achieve that outcome,” Mackenzie said.
BHP has launched the contractor management framework to give all contractors the same access to safety tools and processes as its employees.
Company leaders have spent more time in the field coaching to institutionalise these practices.
BHP has also heightened its effort to create a culture of “chronic unease,” which urges everyone to question assumptions around safety, according to Mackenzie.
“Last financial year, our total recordable injury frequency rose slightly to 4.7 per million hours worked,” MacKenzie said.
“However, we reduced the rate of events with the potential to cause a fatality by 18 per cent, which is a critical indicator of future safety performance. We are encouraged by this, but we know there is still much more work to do.”
Mackenzie holds a positive outlook for the business entering the 2020 financial year, with six major projects on track and on budget in iron ore, copper, oil and potash.
BHP is now the lowest cost iron ore producer, with its Western Australian Iron Ore business increasing production by 20 per cent, while costs fell by 50 per cent over the past five years.
The company also plans to identify a battery technology that could not only lower the cost of power storage for renewables, but also create greater demand for its commodities, according to MacKenzie.
“While we remain cautious in the short-term, we are positive about the long-term outlook,” he said.
“We are confident that our portfolio is well positioned to seize the opportunities that will come from population growth and better living standards, and trends such as electrification and decarbonisation.
“These are all likely to increase demand for our products well into the future.”