BHP to cut over 700 jobs, including in Singapore: Report

Mining giant plans to axe white-collar jobs as early as next week to streamline operations

MELBOURNE • The world's biggest miner, BHP Group, is poised to cut over 700 white-collar jobs, The Australian newspaper reported, adding that the process could start as early as next week.

Last week, BHP chief financial officer Peter Beaven revealed plans of cuts of up to 20 per cent to his 900-strong finance team at an internal town hall meeting, the newspaper said.

BHP's technology group will also face cuts in workforce as part of a restructuring that could see up to 30 per cent of its 2,000-strong Australian and Singapore workforce leave the group, the report said.

The cuts are not targeted at the workforce operating BHP's global mines but will be part of its restructuring of "functional" sections in an attempt to streamline their operations, The Australian reported.

According to an Economic Development Board online publication in October last year, BHP has around 400 people in Singapore, supporting the group's marketing, procurement, market intelligence, freight and technology functions.

It said Singapore houses BHP's technology architecture for enterprise and operational hardware.

  • 2,000

  • Size of BHP technology group's Australian and Singapore workforce, which will face cuts of up to 30 per cent.

BHP's Singapore-based subsidiary, BHP Billiton Marketing Asia, markets and sells commodities including coal, copper, iron ore, nickel and uranium.

A spokesman for BHP declined to comment on The Australian report, but said the process of simplifying the business and support facilities has been under way for about a year. "This work began about 12 months ago and is across functions including finance, human resources, technology and external affairs," the spokesman said.

The changes come less than six weeks after the mining giant announced a major shake-up of its senior management, with the promotion of three women to key positions on its executive leadership board and the appointment of a chief transformation officer.

The jobs cuts come at a time of surging iron ore prices and after the company posted a first-half underlying profit of US$3.7 billion (S$5 billion) in February.

Iron ore prices jumped to multi-year highs above US$90 per tonne on the back of supply restrictions prompted by mine closures in Brazil after a tailings dam wall collapsed, killing hundreds.

But last Tuesday, the company said initial estimates indicated its iron ore production would take a hit of about six million to eight million tonnes after disruption and damage caused by tropical cyclone Veronica last week.

BHP said its 2019 financial year production and unit cost guidance are under review because of the cyclone, which hit Western Australia.

In January, it was revealed BHP was in a A$300 million (S$289 million) dispute with Western Australia's state government over alleged unpaid royalties stemming as far back as a decade, according to a West Australian newspaper report yesterday.

The company has also faced political pressure this year over the axing of a historic domestic shipping contract to transport iron ore from Port Hedland to Port Kembla that left nearly 80 Australian maritime workers without a job.

BLOOMBERG, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 08, 2019, with the headline 'BHP to cut over 700 jobs, including in S'pore: Report'. Print Edition | Subscribe