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BHP investing $800M in jobs, Oz supply chain

BHP has announced it will invest nearly A$800 million over the next five years in Australian jobs and the mining, equipment, technology and services (METS) sector.
BHP investing $800M in jobs, Oz supply chain BHP investing $800M in jobs, Oz supply chain BHP investing $800M in jobs, Oz supply chain BHP investing $800M in jobs, Oz supply chain BHP investing $800M in jobs, Oz supply chain

Staff reporter

The package comprises three key elements.

The first is an increase of 2,500 apprenticeships and traineeships via the newly established BHP FutureFit Academy, with an associated spend of $300 million.

The places will be split between the academy's campuses in Mackay and Perth.

The company will invest a further $30 million and work with the Australian government to develop an additional 1,000 skills development opportunities across a range of sectors in regional areas.

BHP will also commit to spend up to $450 million in contracts with Australian METS companies and the further advancement of the sector.

It will work directly and through its major technology providers to source more local products and services, and will invest in technology pilots and emerging businesses.

BHP CEO Mike Henry said the package would help Australia's recovery from the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"As Australia looks to rebuild its economy and provide jobs for the future, the mining industry has an important role to play as Australia's biggest export earner employing hundreds of thousands of people," he said.

"The mining and METS sector is a critical pillar of our economy, and it has never been more important than now.

"Providing apprenticeships, skills and training opportunities for Australians of all ages and all walks of life, particularly in our regional communities, is a commitment we can make to help Australia bounce back.

"These investments will create a pipeline of future talent in highly skilled roles, working in an industry that delivers essential products to the world and generates export dollars that keep the Australian economy strong."

BHP employs about 45,000 people in Australia, and in the 2020 financial year contributed an estimated $33.4 billion in economic value through jobs, suppliers, taxes, royalties and community investments.

BHP accelerated payments and reduced payment terms for small suppliers during the peak of the pandemic, hired an additional 1500 people on temporary contracts to support its Australian operations, created a $6 million fund to support labour hire companies and their employees, and established the $50 million Vital Resources Fund to support regional communities.

Federal minister for resources, water and Northern Australia Keith Pitt said he was looking forward to similar commitments from other resources companies.

"This is great news from BHP today and shows the mining sector's commitment to supporting the Australian economy through the COVID-19 pandemic," he said.

"The resources sector and mining jobs are so important to the Australian economy, particularly to regional areas.

"The Coalition government unashamedly backs the resources sector and the thousands of jobs it continues to create. 

"While no part of Australia has been immune to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the resources sector has continued to operate and continued to employ people during these difficult months."

According to the Minerals Council of Australia, the resources sector currently employs 8,836 apprentices and trainees.

"And recent National Centre for Vocational Education Research figures show that while apprenticeships across all industries were down 11%, the mining industry only experienced a 1.41% decrease," MCA CEO Tania Constable said.

"The success of Australia's resources sector - including its ability to meet strong export demand - depends on a highly skilled workforce which is qualified and experienced in a range of scientific and environmental fields, professional occupations and trades.

"Support for METS companies by BHP over five years will help to ensure a stronger, more efficient and technologically advanced minerals sector."