BHP ramps up Australian employment in FY2020

The South Flank site. Image: BHP

BHP has added more than 5000 people to its workforce in the 2020 financial year.

The company employs around 45,000 employees and contractors, with a majority of the rise taking place in Western Australia, Queensland and South Australia.

There are more than 14,000 employees and contractors in BHP’s Western Australia Iron Ore (WAIO) operations alone.

Over 900 BHP employees and contractors have relocated to the state in response to COVID-19 related travel restrictions.

They include those in business critical roles, as well as other interstate-based employees such as train drivers and train load out operators.

BHP’s South Flank iron ore project, which was 76 per cent complete as of August, also attracted a construction workforce of around 3000 people as the project moved into its second year of construction in Western Australia.

The mining giant expects to create thousands of additional jobs over the life of the project.

Despite the growth in the workforce, BHP reported zero fatalities in the 2020 financial year, with total recordable injury frequency falling by 11 per cent to 4.2 million hours worked.

“We recorded no fatalities at our operations during the year and have had fewer frequent safety events with the potential to cause a fatality,” BHP chair Ken MacKenzie said in the company’s annual report 2020.

“However, there is no room for complacency and we must continue to push for exceptional safety performance every day.”

Operations-wise, BHP reduced its unit costs by nine per cent across its major assets in the 2020 financial year, which it attributed partly to improved productivity and operating stability.

The mining giant achieved unit production costs of $US12.63 ($17.34) per tonne at Western Australian iron ore (WAIO) and $US67.59 per tonne at Queensland Coal.

WAIO posed a record production of 248 million tonnes in the same period, up from 238 million tonnes in the prior year.

BHP anticipates major economies to contract this year, including the United States, Europe and India.

However, more than 80 per cent of the company’s revenue lies in China, where its outlook for the market is more optimistic.

BHP stated that the country had moved from “intensive viral suppression to solid indications of economic recovery.”

It expects China, and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), to return to their pre-COVID-19 trend growth rates from around 2023.

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