Mining giant BHP signs up for responsible copper production framework

FILE PHOTO: Workers at BHP's Escondida, the world's biggest copper mine, are seen in front of the open pit, in Antofagasta, Northern Chile, March 31, 2008. REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado

(Reuters) - BHP Group Ltd BHP.AX, the world's biggest listed miner, said on Monday it has submitted a letter of commitment to responsible copper production under the Copper Mark framework, launched by the International Copper Association in April last year.

Under the programme, copper producers will be assessed by an independent body against a set of “responsible production criteria” in line with the United Nations sustainable development goals, according to Copper Mark.

BHP-operated copper assets in Escondida and Spence in Chile, and Olympic Dam in Australia, will be the ones undergoing the assessment, the global miner said in a statement.

The pledge adds to BHP’s environmental goals announced in September that included reducing operational emissions by 30% by the 2030 financial year from 2020 levels.

BHP added it believes the program will help to hold the copper industry accountable in areas such as environment, community, human rights and governance issues.

This comes as Australian miners face intense scrutiny over their heritage management strategies after Rio Tinto RIO.AX legally destroyed two sacred and historically significant caves in Western Australia in May to expand an iron ore mine.

Reporting by Anushka Trivedi in Bengaluru, Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri