BHP fires 48 workers for sexual harassment at remote mining sites

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BHP Group PLC updates

BHP has revealed that it fired 48 employees for sexual harassment at its remote Western Australian fly-in, fly-out mines since 2019.

In a submission to a Western Australian parliamentary inquiry, the miner said that between 2019 and 2021 it received six confirmed cases of sexual assault and 73 of sexual harassment at its FIFO mines. Of the 73 cases of harassment, 48 resulted in termination or the permanent removal of the respondent from the company and any of its work sites.

The cases included two counts of rape and a further one of attempted rape, BHP said.

Western Australia’s parliament released BHP’s submission as part of its inquiry into sexual harassment at the state’s FIFO mining camps, where miners fly to remote mining sites to work weekly shifts.

Rio Tinto and Fortescue also made submissions to the inquiry, which were released on Friday. Rio said that, since January 2020, one reported case of sexual assault and 29 reported cases of sexual harassment had been substantiated at its FIFO operations.

“Rio Tinto is committed to eliminating sexual harassment from our business and acknowledges that change is needed to eradicate it from the mining sector,” the company said.

BHP has been battling allegations over its work culture since 2020, when a 42-year-old employee at one its remote camps was charged over an alleged rape. A second employee was charged in June over a separate allegation of rape at a FIFO camp.

BHP said it had taken a number of steps to prevent sexual harassment.

“This Inquiry and the circumstances that led to its calling reflect confronting and, in some cases, criminal behaviour that exists in our industry.” it said in the submission.

“Our position on this is clear. Sexual harassment is completely unacceptable, contrary to our values, and unlawful.”

All substantiated cases were reported to the police except for one, at the request of the victim. Nine reported cases were either not substantiated or could not be investigated to a conclusion, the company said.

The figures showed the reporting rates for sexual harassment had “steadily increased in recent years”, BHP said.

In its submission, BHP said its response had focused on improving prevention, reporting of and response to sexual harassment.

Measures taken included committing A$300m to enhancing site security at FIFO camps and linking remuneration packages for the company’s executive leadership team in the 2022 fiscal year to sexual harassment elimination. It also said relevant senior leaders would be given key performance indicators based on sexual harassment reporting rates.

From July this year the company had further restricted the amount of alcohol employees at the camps were allowed each day to four standard drinks, it added.

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