What it does: Global resources company
Staff stats: 65,000 employees and contractors
The good bits: High-performance culture
The not so good bits: Remote working
Hiring grads with degrees in: Engineering, Maths, IT & Computer Sciences; Finance, Accounting, Economics & Business Administration; Health & Medical Sciences; Law & Legal Studies; Sciences
BHP – Broken Hill Proprietary (company limited) – was launched in 1885 to operate a silver and lead mine in Broken Hill, a mining region near the NSW-South Australia border. The company then ambitiously expanded its operations. First across NSW, then around Australia (including the oil-rich Bass Strait) and finally all over the world. By the time it merged with Billiton in 2001, BHP, aka ‘the Big Australian’, had grown into one of the world’s biggest resource companies.
Billiton is a Dutch mining company whose origins can be traced to 1860. It was already a multinational mining and smelting powerhouse by the time Shell bought it in 1970. It subsequently expanded its geographical footprint and operations further before merging with BHP.
BHP now has mining, production, and processing operations in over 25 countries and is headquartered in Melbourne. Its primary operational units are coal, copper, iron ore, petroleum, and potash (the company is also involved in mining and processing nickel and uranium). The company has long been on the list of Australia’s top 10 largest companies and in 2016 had revenues of $30.9 billion.
BHP sees its raison d’etre as creating “long-term shareholder value through the discovery, acquisition, development and marketing of natural resources.” While aiming to make a profit, the company also embraces a “rigorous approach to workplace health, safety and labour conditions”. This includes requiring its contractors and suppliers to adhere to stringent standards.
While mining and processing resources are not eco-friendly activities, BHP “aims to avoid or, where this is not possible, minimise our impacts, while contributing to lasting environmental benefits across the regions where we operate”.
As would be expected, BHP continues to have more male than female employees. However, the company is committed to “building a diverse workforce, appreciating all the different aspects of individual uniqueness, including thought and perspective, experience, age, disability, nationality, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and gender.”
In Australia, BHP is focused on providing economic opportunities for Indigenous people living near its mine sites. It has several programs that seek to increase the size of its Indigenous workforce.
BHP has long made a huge contribution to Australia’s economic prosperity and continues to do so. The company also engages in voluntary social investment, now mainly through the BHP Foundation (a US-based charity). The Foundation aims to assist in the achievement of many of the ‘Sustainable Development Goals’ (SDGs) the United Nations announced in 2015. The Foundation and the company are focused on making progress on SDGs relating to climate action, quality education, reducing inequality and enhanced institutional governance of natural resources.
BHP offers 12-week internships for uni students. While it’s not necessary to have done one before applying to the company’s grad program, it certainly counts in your favour. Given its size, the company requires staff from a diverse range of backgrounds. However, it is particularly keen on those with business, engineering, IT and science (including health science) degrees. You’ll need to be an Australian or New Zealand citizen or permanent resident and to have at least pass marks in all your subjects. BHP looks for candidates who are values-driven, organised, flexible, conscientious and team orientated.
The recruitment process starts with an online application. After that, there is an online ability and preferred working style assessment. Then there is a telephone interview, after which you may be invited to attend an ‘Engagement Centre’ in Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth or Sydney. While at the Engagement Centre you’ll participate in a group activity and be interviewed by some of the company’s business leaders. If your role will involve working at a mine site, you’ll then need to undergo a medical assessment. If you make it through all those stages, you will receive an offer.
Most engineering and science roles are based on mine sites (the company will cover your relocation costs and provide free accommodation). Back-office roles in areas such as finance, HR, IT and supply will usually be in a capital city office.
Even the post-mining boom, there are still some spectacular salaries available in the mining sector. As a grad, you can expect to be earning in the neighbourhood of $70,000. After you’re trained up, you can potentially double or even triple that in short order, especially if you’re working in an engineering or science role at a remote location.
That noted, be aware there is a reason mining companies pay FIFO workers so well. You may discover that working 12-hour shifts in a challenging physical environment for weeks on end while thousands of kilometres from family and friends is not something you wish to do, no matter how good the money.
The company aims to “attract, employ and develop [those] with exceptional skills” and encourage them to “grow, learn, develop their skills and reach their potential”. You can expect plenty of challenges working at BHP Billiton. If you rise to them, you can expect to enjoy an exciting and well-paid career at the company.
For obvious reasons, BHP has historically had a blokey, Aussie culture. It arguably still does a little, though most of the rougher edges have been removed in recent times. Most staff feel the company pays them well, provides them with plenty of professional development opportunities and does everything possible to guarantee their health and safety. It’s a friendly, relatively egalitarian workplace culture. You can expect to form strong bonds with your colleagues, especially if they are the only people within a thousand-kilometre radius.
"At BHP we offer you the chance to grow, to think big and make a difference. You will be a part of a global company who embraces new ideas and new voices to speak up and explore what is possible. Our people are committed to working ways that embrace our charter values of Sustainability, Integrity, Respect, Performance, Simplicity, and Accountability.
Our products are the essential building blocks of progress, fueling the change that is lifting the living standards of millions of people around the world. Our iron ore helps build communities, cities, and economies. Our coal helps deliver affordable energy and our copper helps connect the world. Our oil and gases essential for driving the global economy.
No matter where you are in the world, to be part of our Graduate Program we need you to have as a minimum an undergraduate degree in engineering, science, technology, business or health science. What really makes you stand out is your ability to speak up, be innovative, curious and want to make a difference."