The mining industry often has the reputation of being male dominated. But that is changing – especially if BHP has anything to do about it. As a global resource company, BHP’s experience around the world shows a diverse and inclusive workforce which promotes safety, productivity, and wellbeing, and helps attract and retain employees. Across its operations BHP has set an ambition to be gender balanced by 2025. And, the company’s Jansen Potash Project is no exception, where it has an ambition to be gender-balanced from day one of operations.
“We know that diverse teams lead to better performance and promote better culture. This is why we are striving to ensure our Jansen operations workforce is gender balanced and is reflective of our communities,” said Simon Thomas, president, potash for BHP. “To achieve this, we actively work on mitigating bias in our hiring and recruitment processes, embedding flexible work, providing training, focusing on respectful behaviours and making BHP attractive to everyone.”
Construction on the $7.5 billion Jansen Stage 1 is a well underway, with first production expected to be achieved in late 2026. The first stage of the project is planned to deliver 4.35 million tonnes of potash per annum. Envisioned as a four-stage project, should the potash market support future expansion, Jansen has the potential to produce between 16 to 17 million tonnes of annual production. The company has already announced that it is accelerating studies to explore Stage 2 development.
“As the world’s population grows, so does the need for essential resources like potash to help secure sustainable global food production. And Saskatchewan has a big part to play in meeting this demand,” continued Thomas. “It’s hard to get your head around a century of production, but should all four stages go ahead, that is the scale of the opportunity. Locally this would mean hundreds of meaningful jobs for generations.”
To help reach workforce goals, the BHP Trade Readiness program was created to provide apprenticeship programs focused specifically on women. BHP has partnered with Carlton Trail College and Women Building Futures to provide these programs. Carlton Trail College successfully held their first women-only cohort in Humboldt in 2022, and the first cohort with Women Building Futures began in January 2023.
“We had to ask ourselves, where are the gaps and how do we address them? One of those gaps is the number of women currently working in skilled trades and enrolled in apprenticeship programs. Our partnerships with Women Building Futures and Carlton Trail College are a fantastic way to address this locally,” shared Daniel Longman, specialist local procurement and apprenticeships with BHP.
Women Building Futures has a strong track record of providing training for women in industries that they have traditionally been underrepresented. The BHP Trade Readiness program launched in January will provide participants with the experience and training they need to enter a career in the mining industry, including safety certificates and hands-on skills in a variety of trades.
“Supporting women’s economic security has an incredible ripple effect for the community. When you uplift the potential of a woman, you uplift the potential of her children as well,” said Carol Moen, president & CEO of Women Building Futures.
However, BHP knows that providing women with the skills and training they need is only the first step.
“We have looked across our business and operations to make adjustments targeted at inclusiveness. This has included creating an optional women’s dorm at camp to redesigning personal protective equipment and other work wear to offer more size and shape choices for women,” said Thomas. “It is imperative to us that women feel BHP, and the Jansen operations in particular, is a place they are welcomed, safe, and valuable members of the team.”