Cross-business improvements under BHP’s Think Bigger campaign were bringing benefits to operations and the Port Hedland community, Port Hedland Industry Council’s Community Industry Forum was told this month.

“Thinking bigger for Port Hedland is about how we deliver value to our people, partners, the economy, the environment and local communities,” BHP General Manager Port Operations Cindy Dunham said.

Cindy moved to Port Hedland about a year ago with her husband, after roles with Rio Tinto, Newmont, and Fortescue, and most recently as Global Vice President Transformation at Orica.

“I can honestly say I absolutely love it here – most importantly I love the community,” she said.

Thinking Bigger at Port Hedland was designed to bring port and rail and the community together to create a great place to work and live and mobilise the scale of the WAIO business to enable a sustainable pathway to 330mtpa.

Among the work being done, the first phase of the port debottlenecking project scheduled to run from 2021 to 2024 was progressing to plan.

The project involves extension of the South Yard and new infrastructure including a new bucket wheel reclaimer, upgraded stacker, and upgrades to inflow and outflow conveyors. At its peak, the project will have about 600 construction workers onsite.

A $12 million contract has been awarded to Hicks Civils and Mining, an Indigenous owned and operated Pilbara contractor.

Cindy said improvements in the BHP Operating System had enabled record production of shipped tonnes​ and had empowered a highly engaged workforce to share ideas and solutions.

Operation Services integration into port activities was enabling better outcomes for maintenance and workers.

Shiploader automation testing had started in June 2022, with a target of eight shiploaders being automated by the end of this year. The project is leveraging 3D laser technology and will enable increased capacity.

Cindy said some of the most important developments had come from projects and initiatives that delivered social value for Port Hedland.

“I’m particularly proud of having lived in the Port Hedland community with my family,” she said.

“Some of these social value projects and initiatives have made a difference directly to my own family and our employees, but also, and more importantly, to the broader community and the health of the region.

“We’ve recently signed a Power Purchase Agreement for South Flank and Port Hedland, which will cut our emissions by about 50 per cent by 2025.

“That’s a big step for a town that relies primarily on gas turbine power generation and is a first step on our pathway to decarbonisation.

“We are installing wind fences, the first of its kind in Australia, to manage dust as well as using vegetation barriers and employing comprehensive, real-time air quality monitoring,” she said.

Cindy said significant changes had been introduced to attract and retain workers by focusing on delivering a safe, inclusive, and diverse workforce.

“This is particularly important in the current social climate, but also in the current workforce market where labour comes at a premium. This is our opportunity to make a difference in the communities in which we operate,” she said.

“Our Rail Academy, the first of its kind in the mining industry, was set up last year right here in Port Hedland. It will deliver 200 new train drivers over the next three years.”

Cindy said the BHP team was looking forward to further fostering partnerships with the community and industry to think bigger and make Port Hedland an even better place to love.