BHP betrays international safety efforts
Date Reported: 15 Sep 2020
CompaniesBHP - Parent Company
ProjectsOlympic Dam - Unknown
Total individuals affected: Number unknownWorkers: ( Number unknown - Location unknown - Sector unknown , Gender not reported ) , Community: ( Number unknown - Location unknown - Sector unknown , Gender not reported )
IssuesWater pollution , Violation of environmental safety standards , Occupational Health & Safety , Land Rights , Indigenous Peoples , Access to Information , Access to Water , Free, prior & informed consent , Clean, Healthy & Sustainable Environment
Response sought: Yes, by BHRRC
Story containing response: (Find out more)
Source type: News outlet
15 September 2020
The world's largest mining company BHP has betrayed international efforts to reform the mining sectors' ongoing potential to cause catastrophic impacts though the failure of tailings dams.
Operations at the Olympic Dam copper-uranium mine in South Australia show BHP has failed to learn key lesson's regarding transparency, accountability and corporate responsibility following its complicity in the November 2015 disaster at the BHP and Vale joint venture Samarco iron ore mine in Brazil.
An internal 2016 report reveals that TSF6 has the potential to cause the death of 100 or more BHP employees and to cause "irrecoverable" environmental impacts from release of tailings waste.
[...] [A]ll the existing tailings dams and the BHP-designed TSF5 were re-classified internally as 'extreme' consequence tailings dams, with potential for catastrophic tailings dam embankment breaches.
Upstream construction design features periodic raising of the tailings dam embankment wall built back over existing tailings waste. The stability of the raised upstream embankment wall then depends on unreliable consolidation of tailings waste located under the raised dam wall.
In terms of accountability and BHP's claimed 'social license to operate', the company should surrender outdated legal [...]
Kokatha Traditional Owners should have a right to exercise Free, Prior and Informed Consent under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples regarding any BHP Olympic Dam proposal, without limitation by outdated BHP legal privileges and prior agreements.
BHP's practices at Olympic Dam are an affront to the company's workers, to Traditional Owners and all South Australians, and to the victims of the Samarco disaster. BHP has failed the 'safety first' test. The company must stop putting profits ahead of worker safety, must stop construction of risky upstream tailings dams, and switch the design of TSF6 to a safer, downstream construction method.