Protest at BHP’s offices in Australia

BHP is an Anglo-Australian mining and petroleum company headquartered in Melbourne, Australia. It is listed on the London Stock Exchange and has a major management office in London. It is the world’s largest mining company according to PwC [2016] with 30 operations in 13 different countries around the world.

Controversies associated with BHP include:

  • The catastrophic failure of the Fundão tailings (waste) dam – also known as the Samarco disaster – on 5 November 2015, in Minas Gerais, Brazil, because of what is now recognised as design and construction failures. The collapse released an estimated 50 million tons of toxic mud waste into the Rio Doce river, which spread all the way to the sea, killing 19 people and requiring the evacuation of 600 more. BHP co-owns the mine with Brazilian mining firm, Vale, and the duo have faced public campaigns over inadequate support and compensation to those affected by the disaster, insufficient clean-up efforts and various fines and national and international legal cases over responsibility for the breach.
  • The giant open-pit Cerrejón coal mine in La Guajira, northern Colombia. The mine is jointly owned by Anglo American, BHP and Glencore. The Cerrejón mine is located in Wayúu indigenous territory and when mining began 30 years ago local people were not consulted. Instead their lands were seized and communities were forcibly displaced, violating their constitutional land rights. The Colombian government has failed to adequately compensate any of the affected communities. Pollution and dust from the coal mine has caused the contamination of water supplies and the air. Indigenous groups report that their traditional lifestyle has been badly affected, soil pollution has caused failed crops, fishing areas have been contaminated and displacement has disturbed inter-community relations.

BHP hold their annual general meeting in London every October. We often invite community representatives – human rights and environmental defenders from BHP-affected areas in South America as well as people from national organisations working with these communities – to the UK for a week-long speaker tour. Activities during the week build on year-long joint advocacy work as the visitors speak truth to power.

BHP related resources

‘The River is dead’ report into the Samarco disaster
BHP’s trail of disasters
Follow our BHP updates page.