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In a speech to the major’s annual general meeting, BHP chairman Ken MacKenzie said the company is committed to contributing positively to the lives of Indigenous communities.

It came as members of Brazilian Indigenous communities spoke out at the meeting, referencing the Fundão iron ore tailings dam collapse in 2015.

Known as the Mariana dam disaster, the accident took the lives of 19 people and contaminated the surround waterways.

While BHP was not the operator of the dam, it created the Renova Foundation after the accident to help with the damage, home rebuilding and compensation payments.

“Our relationships with Traditional Owners and other Indigenous partners are some of the most important relationships to BHP,” MacKenzie said in his speech.

“We operate on the traditional lands of Indigenous peoples at many of our locations in Australia and around the world. We partner widely with Indigenous communities and have long-term agreements with Traditional Owners and First Nations partners.”

MacKenzie also said that BHP had spent over $US330 million with Indigenous suppliers over the year.

“We recognise that we can contribute positively to the lives and aspirations of Indigenous peoples and communities by providing opportunities for employment and supporting Indigenous enterprises,” he said.

“We remain committed to incorporating Indigenous perspectives and voices into the way we operate and manage our business, and to working closely with Traditional Owners.”