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BHP reaches Indigenous employment goal early, eyes new reconciliation deal

Tom Zaunmayr -

BHP has reached its Australian Indigenous employment target three years ahead of schedule, figures released in its half-yearly report reveal.

The mining giant set a target to achieve eight per cent Indigenous employment in Australia by mid-2025 but has gone above that to 8.1 per cent as of February this year.

BHP Minerals Australia president Edgar Basto said reaching the target early was a proud moment for the company.

"BHP is committed to creating opportunities for Indigenous people to join our company, build their skills and pursue a rewarding career in mining," he said.

"We have made good progress, but I know we can do much more to make BHP a place where Indigenous people can perform at their best and achieve their potential."

Among those recruited is South Hedland High School graduate Kyrell Rodney, 18, who is a few weeks into his electrical apprenticeship with BHP.

Mr Rodney said he had been inspired into the industry by BHP electrician and mentor Josh Nannup.

"After the Exploring Pathways Program in Year 11, I knew I wanted to work at BHP - a year after I graduated, my application for an electrical apprenticeship was accepted," he said.

"Because the apprentice intake is so diverse, it has been a pretty comfortable and a good environment to work in â€" there is a lot of diversity in my team, about half of the team is Indigenous."

Some 59 per cent of the most recent Port Hedland-based apprenticeship intake identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.

Of 231 apprentices and trainees currently at BHP's Perth-based Future Fit Academy for heavy diesel mechanics and mechanical fitters, 20 per cent are Indigenous.

BHP Minerals Australia head of Indigenous engagement Allan James said retention and leadership pathways were core focuses for the company's First Nations workforce.

"Attracting Indigenous people into our business is the first step, we also need to focus on the retention aspect and creating the pathway for more Indigenous people to develop into leadership roles," he said.

"Ensuring the environment that we are creating is culturally respectful and secure for our people is critical.

Mr James said new targets and engagement strategies were being developed as part of BHP's next Minerals Australia reconciliation action plan.

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