The mining giant BHP Group Ltd (NYSE: BHP) has formed a partnership with a Canadian charity to help provide scholarships and bursaries to Indigenous students pursuing post-secondary studies.
On Tuesday, the company announced the $2.6 million three-year partnership with the Indigenous registered charity Indspire. BHP says it will enable the charity to expand its Building Brighter Futures: Bursaries, Scholarships and Awards program, which offers hundreds of post-secondary bursaries to students throughout Canada annually.
Additionally, the funding will cover travel expenses for Indigenous students and educators attending the Soaring, Indigenous Youth Empowerment Gathering in Edmonton and the National Gathering for Indigenous Education in Montreal this November.
“BHP’s expanded commitment to Indspire’s Building Brighter Futures bursaries and scholarships program is a meaningful commitment to empowering First Nations, Inuit, and Métis students across the country to achieve their educational goals,” said BHP’s President and CEO Mike DeGagné.
The program’s next phase will be launching this November and running through 2025.
“The work Indspire is doing to break down barriers and create new opportunities for Indigenous students in Canada is critical to a more inclusive, equitable and successful future for all,” said BHP’s Chief Legal, Governance and External Affairs Officer Caroline Cox.
BHP has caused significant environmental damage to Indigenous lands
However, despite the positive impact of providing funding to Indigenous students in Canada, BHP has been the subject of immense criticism over the environmental damage it has caused in recent years.
Most notably In 2015, a dam collapse the company and its joint venture partner Vale SA (NYSE: VALE) were responsible for in Brazil polluted a major river with arsenic and other mining waste — prompting a $44 billion lawsuit from thousands of citizens in London’s High Court and local Indigenous groups.
The event was described by Reuters as being Brazil’s worst environmental disaster, which killed 19 people and resulted in over 40 million cubic metres of mud and toxic waste being released, destroying entire villages. It is one of the largest court cases in British legal history.
The court proceedings are still ongoing and the two companies are in the midst of a legal battle over who bears more responsibility.
Following the Mariana Dam disaster, BHP continues to hurt Indigenous Brazilians by refusing compensation and dragging their case through years of litigation.
BHP should take accountability and support the Krenak people whose lands and waterways they destroyed. pic.twitter.com/VgxVt7eWfV
— Senator Tony Sheldon (@TonySheldonNSW) September 18, 2023
An award-winning 2022 documentary created by a Navajo filmmaker titled Powerlands showcased BHP’s environmental damage in Colombia and Arizona as well.
In 2021, Chile’s court ordered the company to stop drawing water from a riverbed adjacent to its copper mining operation in the country and to properly regulate the mine’s waste deposits following complaints from Indigenous people in the area who said the company was overdrawing water and negatively impacting local wetlands.
BHP shares dropped by 1.9 per cent Tuesday to US$55.03 on the New York Stock Exchange.