BHP—Broken Hill Proprietary Company

Broken Hill Proprietary Company Ltd. (BHP) of Australia acquired Magma Mining Company January, 1996. The merger made the BHP Copper the second largest copper producer in the world with 9 percent of mine production.

Analysis - BHP primes market for Ok Tedi blow
AUSTRALIA , August 12, 1999
Reuters News Service
Story by Sonali Paul

MELBOURNE - The Broken Hill Pty Co Ltd (BHP) faces a nightmare at the ill-fated Ok Tedi copper mine in Papua New Guinea that will be more tricky to tackle than the dragons the resources group slew last year.

Studies released on Wednesday confirmed what Ok Tedi Mining Ltd flagged two months ago, that waste rock and tailings were building up in rivers near the mine causing frequent flooding that was killing trees and possibly harming algae and fish.

"From BHP's perspective as a shareholder, the easy conclusion to reach with the benefit of these reports and 20/20 hindsight, is that the mine is not compatible with our environmental values and the company should never have become involved," BHP chief executive Paul Anderson said in a statement.

BHP will not be able to dump its 52.6 percent stake in Ok Tedi or close the mine as easily as it did with its U.S. copper mines or its Hartley platinum mine stake in Zimbabwe because there are hefty social and economic costs involved for Papua New Guinea.

Entire story:


Disasters raise questions about Australian miners
AUSTRALIA : March 28, 2000
Reuters News Service

SIDNEY - Three environmental disasters have raised questions at home about how diligently Australian mining houses are managing hazardous operations offshore. One Australian company has been accused of polluting the Danube and another two with causing environmental havoc in Papua New Guinea.

Despite promises of best practice management, Australian companies operating overseas are failing to stop extremely toxic and dangerous chemicals entering the environment," Greenpeace campaign manager Benedict Southworth said. But private and government industry leaders defended for the most part the environmental record of Australian miners, saying the latest disasters, while unfortunate, should not serve as an indictment on the whole sector. "If you look at all the Australian mining companies operating around the world, to somehow summarily allege all of them are applying lower standards abroad is drawing a long bow," said Rod Bruem, a spokesman for Environment Minister Robert Hill.

The latest controversy began on Tuesday in Papua New Guinea when a ton of cyanide was accidentally dropped from the underbelly of a helicopter chartered by Australia-based Dome Resources into a remote jungle region. In January, more than 100,000 cubic metres of cyanide-tainted water leaked from Romania's Baia Mare gold treatment plant to pollute rivers there and in Hungary. One of the partners in the mine was Esmeralda Exploration, based in the Western Australia state capital Perth…..

Entire story:


Aussie firm says New Guinea copper mine a dilemma
AUSTRALIA : June 8, 2000
Reuters News Service

CANBERRA - Major Australian resources company Broken Hill Pty Co Ltd [BHP] said yesterday that the environmentally troubled Ok Tedi copper mine in Papua New Guinea was proving a dilemma for it.

While the mine clearly does have an environmental impact, the income it provides is very advantageous to the country and the people of the communities in the region where the mine operates," Ron McNeilly, executive director and president of BHP Minerals, told the Mineral Council of Australia's annual seminar in Canberra.

McNeilly said an inability to act unilaterally in addressing environmental matters was also an issue.

In May, BHP said the PNG mine was expected close well before its expected 10-year life….

Entire story:


BHP disputes Ekati sediment charges
AUSTRALIA : June 21, 2000
Reuters News Service

MELBOURNE - The Broken Hill Pty Co Ltd [BHP] said on Tuesday it would plead not guilty to charges it had violated Canadian fish protection rules at the Ekati diamond mine in the Northwest Territories. BHP, operator and majority owner of the mine, has been charged with violating the Fisheries Act on eight counts alleging it failed to take proper steps to stem the release of sediment in building and operating a diversion channel around two diamond pipes.

We do not agree with the charges and we will be defending ourselves," BHP Ekati spokesman Graham Nicholls told reporters on a teleconference call from Toronto.

The company faces maximum fines of C$1 million for each count, but Nicholls said successful prosecutions on similar cases had resulted in fines that were "significantly lower".

The charges come at a time when BHP is under fire for its operation of the Ok Tedi copper mine in western Papua New Guinea, where tailings have clogged up the river system, killing trees and harming fish life.

The company has said the Ok Tedi operation is "not compatible" with its environmental values. But while BHP would like to close it, the owners must take into account the Papua New Guinea economy's heavy dependence on the mine.

BHP is 52 percent owner and operator of the OK Tedi mine, with Canadian Inmet Mining Corp holding 18 percent and the Papua New Guinea government owning 30 percent.

BHP Billiton faces shareholder concern over irresponsible conduct across four continents
AUSTRALIA, 30th November 2005
Mineral Policy Centre ( Australia) Media Release
by MPI Sydney

BHP Billiton will face a barrage of concerned shareholders when it holds its meeting in Perth today.

The Mineral Policy Institute joins with other concerned shareholders of the company to query whether the company’s corporate responsibility rhetoric will ever translate into reality.

BHP Billiton will come under fire for their questionable environmental and social conduct across four continents including:

** PHILIPPINES: Their involvement in allegedly unlawful exploration for nickel in Pujada Bay in the Philippines. Earlier this week, BHPB Chairman Don Argus was sent a petition of over 800 signatures of residents in opposition to the mining who are demanding BHPB pull out of the operations. The petition was in response to claims Argus made at the London AGM last month that there was widespread community support for the Pujada Bay mining projects. Exploration licenses for the activities supported by BHPB overlap with protected areas and endangered species habitat in violation of requirements in the Philippines Mining Act, and have been opposed by two out of three local level governments in the region.

** COLOMBIA: Failure to address the cases of long suffering communities who were forcibly evicted for the expansion of the El Cerrejon coal mine in Colombia. Dialogue has not progressed since before the last AGM and dispossessed families who have lost their homes, lands and livelihood are currently scattered all over Northern Columbia living with family and friends as they await compensation and relocation as a result of forced and in case violent evictions that occurred 5 or more years ago.

** SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA: Unwillingness to agree to a 1km safety zone from the rivers in its mining operations in the Southern Coalfields of NSW. After wrecking significant portions of the Cataract, Georges Rivers with previous mining activities, the company has submitted proposals to mine at distances of only 30m in some cases. Even BHPB’s own consultants say, in the subsidence management plan that was submitted on 18th of October this year that the river and 18 creeks at this site will probably be cracked. This river is a conduit for drinking water in Sydney (via Upper Canal) and Macarthur (via the nearby Macarthur Water Filtration Plant).

**INDONESIA: Recent reports that they are going to fight for the right to mine on Gag Island in Indonesia despite an Indonesian Constitutional court ruling that confirmed “the dangerousness and negative impacts of open cut mining in protected forest areas” and stated that those mines in exploration and feasibility stages must comply with the law banning open cut mining in protected areas.

**PAPUA NEW GUINEA: Their broken promises to shareholders in 2001 that they would ensure the Ok Tedi mine would be well managed after their exit. Now catastrophic predictions of acid rock drainage along the Ok Tedi and Fly River systems are likely to exacerbate near life threatening food and water shortages in downstream communities, and leave the river dead for between two hundred to three hundred years. A meeting of community representatives in November this year confirmed that, contrary to BHPB's claims, communities did not consent to the terms of BHPB’s exit from the mine.

**URANIUM, WORLDWIDE: Their [BHPB] entry into the uranium sector and the nuclear cycle which has seen ethical shareholders such as the Uniting Church sell their shares in the company, and includes current plans that drastically expand production and associated environmental impacts of the Roxby Downs uranium mine.

"If BHP Billiton is ever to live up to its claims of corporate responsibility the company has to address the core issues at its mine sites across the globe. It has to take responsibility for the mess it has dumped upon surrounding communities, and take meaningful steps to avoid creating further social and environmental harm. Lofty goals and weasel words are one thing, but the signals from their project sites tell the real story and it isn't very pretty," stated Techa Beaumont of the Mineral Policy Institute.

Additional information on each of these issues is available at

The audio of the questions is available on the BHP Billiton website