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BHP becomes first miner in Chile to exceed 40% female representation

BHP, the world’s largest miner, has come a long way in the matter of female representation in its workforce, particularly in Latin America, becoming this year the first mining company in Chile in which women account for 40.8% of its staff. 

The company, which operates and own 57.5% of the Escondida copper mine, the world’s largest and has other producing and exploration assets in the country, including the Spence and Cerro Colorado mines, says female presence in its operations is more than double the national industry average of 15%.

Back in 2016, when BHP had only 17.5% female presence globally, the mining giant set a public goal to achieve gender balance by 2025.

Jocelyn Vega Vallejos, Mining Operations Technician at Escondida mine. (Image courtesy of BHP.)

“Gender parity was a goal that many believed impossible. Today, as BHP Americas, we can proudly confirm that we have achieved 40% female representation, one year ahead of schedule,” the president BHP Americas, Rag Udd, says.

“We are aware that this journey does not end here. Although gender balance is important, it is vital that we focus on creating an inclusive culture, in which everyone can contribute with their full potential,” Add notes.

At Escondida alone, BHP employs 1,509 women out of the 3,935 direct workers it has. 

The company says that increased female representation at its operations is a result of the implementation of policies addressing gender pay gaps, the promotion of labour flexibility, as well as training and talent retention initiatives. The company notes that adapting operational infrastructure to better suit the needs of women has also been a factor in the equation.

A recent report by the CCM-Eleva Alliance, a joint initiative between Chile’s Mining Council and Fundacion Chile, analyzed workforce trends and challenges of 27 mining and supplier companies.

One of the report’s main conclusions is that female participation in the labour market sits below those of developed countries. When it comes to decision-making across the mining industry, however, women accounted for 17% in 2022. This means country is better positioned in terms of women’s participation in the mining industry than Peru, and at the same level as the United States.

In terms of women participation in the mining industry, Chile is better positioned than neighbours and at the same level as the United States. (Image courtesy of CCM-Eleva Alliance Report.)

The industry’s treatment of women came under increased scrutiny in 2002, when the government of West Australia published the results of an inquiry that revealed “horrific” incidents at remote projects. 

At Rio Tinto (ASX, LON: RIO), more than a quarter of female workers experienced sexual harassment and bullying, the company revealed in 2022.

The same investigation revealed that BHP recorded 91 reports of alleged sexual harassment or assault in the year through June 30, 2021, of which 79 were substantiated. 

The mining giant, which completed in 2023 a A$300 million ($191 million) project to make its mining villages in Western Australia safer by adding extra CCTV cameras, security lighting, doors and fences, saw a 20% increase in reported sexual harassment last year.

Source: MINING.COM – Read More