BHP establishes $50mn Vital Resources Fund to support regional communities

By Daniel Brightmore
BHP will set upa $50 million (AUD) Vital Resources Fund to help support regional Australian communities in its areas of operation, which are facing the...

BHP will set up a $50 million (AUD) Vital Resources Fund to help support regional Australian communities in its areas of operation, which are facing the significant challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The establishment of the Fund follows BHP’s commitment to deliver $100 million into small, local and Indigenous businesses by accelerating payments and reducing payment terms to seven days (from 30 days), and to employ a further 1,500 people to support its Australian operations.

BHP CEO Mike Henry commented: “BHP stands with the regional communities we operate in. With those communities facing significant challenges, we are stepping up in establishing the Vital Resources Fund, which will provide support in a range of areas such as health services and resilience building during this difficult time.”

“We know COVID-19 will require a significant collective response from governments, businesses, communities and individuals across Australia. We are determined to play our part as we work through this challenge together.”

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Spending will be focused on the regions surrounding BHP’s Australian operations, including the Bowen Basin in Central Queensland, the Hunter Valley in NSW, Roxby Downs and the Upper Spencer Gulf in South Australia, and the Pilbara and Goldfields regions in Western Australia.

Over the coming weeks and months, BHP will work with relevant leaders and groups to distribute funding according to local needs and in a manner aligned with government programs and initiatives.

Anticipated areas of support include:

  • Local and regional health networks for critical infrastructure, services and workforces.
  • Essential community services that keep regions strong.
  • Community mental health and resilience.
  • Social partners and community leaders to support rural and remote Indigenous communities.
  • Over the longer term, working with governments at all levels to increase resources and training available to jobseekers.

Edgar Basto, acting Minerals Australia president at BHP, said supporting its people, communities and partners, safely, was the highest priority. “As part of BHP’s social distancing measures we are introducing more small teams with critical skills to work dynamically across different shifts. The government has said that resources industry is vital in Australia’s response to the global pandemic.

"We are stepping up and providing jobs and contracts. Our suppliers, large and small, play a critical role in supporting our operations. It is a tough time for our communities and the economy. We must look out for each other as we manage through this together.”

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