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BHP Billiton assesses human rights risks

December 2003

The world’s largest diversified resources company has taken a first step towards formally assessing the exposure of each of its sites to human rights-related risks.

BHP Billiton has sent managers at sites around the world a toolkit for ‘appraising their potential exposure to human rights issues’. The information collected will form part of the company’s regular auditing of its health, safety, environment and community (HSEC) record. The self-assessment invites managers to consider human rights issues as they relate to nine aspects of the company’s operations, including land purchases, contractors, and indigenous and minority groups.

Human rights issues arose at three sites in the past year. At the Tintaya copper mine in Peru, the company is in talks with leaders of five communities in the Espinar region. The other two sites are in South Africa and issues relate to people living on mine property.

According to the company, which has just produced an HSEC report, its exposure to minerals-related human rights risk can be expected to diminish as mining projects play a relatively minor part in BHP Billiton’s future investment plans. Over the next four years it will spend significantly more on new petroleum projects. Eight of these – in Algeria, Australia, Trinidad and the US – will alone consume $2.8billion (£1.7bn), compared with $1.9bn on minerals projects.

Matthew Taylor, BHP Billiton’s London-based sustainable development manager, has left after three years with the company. His role will be filled by vice president sustainable development, Ian Wood, who is based in Melbourne.




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