BHP blamed a recent collision between two autonomous trucks that occurred at
Jimblebar, the firm’s iron ore mine on the significant rainfall that affected the region in mid-
March 2019. According to reports, one track was unloaded and traveling at around 14kph and
other one loaded moving at 27kph lost traction before colliding with each other. During the time
of the collision, no one was working at the area, therefore, no injuries were reported. Despite
this, an investigation is underway to determine the real cause of the accident. The fact that this is
not the first mishap affecting BHP’s autonomous fleet might indicate that the company has
certain issues with its macro-environment elements. The deliberate derailment of a runaway train
in Pilbara last November after one of its trucks had taken off without its driver indicates that the
company has macro-environment issues that impact its environment (Williams, 2019) . The paper
will undertake a PEST analysis of the company to discover and evaluate the issues that might
have played a big part in these recent problems witnessed by the company.
It is important to note that BHP Billiton Ltd operates in a very dynamic environment
where consumer behavior, government decisions, increased environmental activism, as well as
increased regulatory framework all have played a key role in the operations of this business
(Johnson, Scholes, & Whittington, 2005). The paper attempts to connect these issues to the
problems that BHP has been experiencing.
Even though the government plays a critical role in creating regulatory frameworks that
govern the operations of mining companies, BHP needs to pay more attention to the activities of
non-government organizations and ensure that these groups are on its side (Dawe, 2003). It can
attain by making sure that closely collaborate with them to make sure that it contributes to its
activities to make sure that it improves both the community goals as well as corporate objectives.
If BHP has these groups on its side, it will not experience a lot of pressure because they will
understand that this company is always doing well to protect the community, thus, would not
indulge in activities that would endanger the lives of its people (Morrison, 2016) . It shows that
engaging stakeholder groups plays a key role in making sure that a business handles its scandals
well and this is something that could seriously benefit BHP in the mire involving its autonomous
Another critical political issue that affects the operations of BHP is the impact of the
local governments in Australia. Different from other countries, the local governments in
Australia play a key role in policy making and regulations in the country. To avoid problems
with the local government, BHP Billiton Ltd should closely follow the states and territories in
which it has a large presence in rather than devising nation-wide policies in the country. In the
case of BHP, its main activities are located in Western Australia meaning that it has to comply
with the local government requirements of this region. Relating to this accident, the company
could assure the local government that its infrastructure and property development had nothing
to do with these accidents. The local government obviously inspects the company’s facilities and
might have highlighted any elements that would have likely led to the accident involving these
autonomous trucks (Perera, 2017) . Therefore, it is right to assume on the political front, BHP is
good as far as this accident is concerned.
Economic factors are crucial macro-environment elements that affect BHP’s operations
and might have had an impact on the recent accident that took place in one of its mining
facilities. One of the key economic elements that affect BHP’s operations includes skill level of
workforce in this market. The human resources skill level in Australia is between moderate to
high, particularly in the Basic Materials sector. Due to financial difficulties, one could argue that
BHP might have gone for the moderate human resource (Johnson, Whittington, Scholes,
Angwin, & Regner, 2017). With mining facilities very delicate given the nature of accidents that
takes place in this industry, this could help in explaining the incidents being witnessed in these
firm’s facilities. If the mining infrastructures are weak and not up to standards, these issues
should not just be directed towards the company alone because there are other players involved.
The designers and manufacturers of the raw materials used in the design process also become
liable. Moreover, the construction company that BHP hired to develop its mining facilities might
also be to blame for these problems (Thompson & Macklin, 2010) . Despite all these, the main
problem lies at the hands of BHP because it is responsible for selecting vendors and constructors.
However, blaming this problem on economic activities would not make sense because it
is not only the largest mining company in Australia but also in the world in terms of market
capitalization. Moreover, the company operates in more than ten countries meaning that it cannot
lack funds to develop its infrastructure in the right way. The company has efficient financial
markets not only in Australia but also in the other regions in which it operates (BHP Billiton,
2003) . These vibrant financial markets have allowed the company to extend its operation in
different global markets. If the company has the finances to ensure that its operations are
flawless abroad, then it has to first ensure that its operations at home are above excellent.
Therefore, it would be imprudent to argue that the accidents that this organization has
experienced in its Australian facilities are due to underinvestment on its part (Young & Burgess,
2010) . With downward pressure on consumer spending in Australia, the company is enjoying a
rapid inflow of cash meaning that it does not lack funds for investment activities, particularly in
The society in which this company operates also affects the outcomes of its operations.
These social issues are usually important because they can impact the types of operations that a
company does. For the case of BHP, one could argue that the society’s attitude towards and
health and safety might have contributed towards these accidents. The country has undergone
increased liberalization in recent times that is believed to have reduced this society’s concern
towards health and safety (Song, Wang, & Zhu, 2018). The company has tried to remain positive
even amid this reduced pressure from society regarding safety concern. The company has a code
of ethics that governs its activities, thus, it is right to assume that it always upholds the highest
standards in all its operations, particularly the technical ones. However, with this society’s lack of
concern regarding safety issues, one could argue that this might have led the company to
overlook certain issues in some of its mining facilities. Despite this, it would be wrong to accuse
BHP as the liable party to these accidents without a proof (Assenmacher, 2012) . The fact that
society is not concerned about safety matters does not necessarily mean that this company
decided to overlook these issues.
Power structure is the other social issue that the paper can use to explain to explain the
accidents that have been happening in this company’s facilities compounded with the last
month’s collision of its autonomous trucks. Over the last few years, the Australian society has
witnessed a change in its power structure brought about by increasing income inequality trend in
the country (Basu, Hicks, Krivokapic-Skoko, & Sherley, 2015). With this reduction in income
inequality, the power structure has altered to the extent that huge companies like BHP have had a
huge influence in the areas in which it operates with very little regard to the environment. Even
though this is not related to Australia, the catastrophic failure in one of its iron ore mining
facilities is an indicator of the influence this company has (Diakov, Sanjdorj, & Jamsrandorj,
2019) . This accident in Brazil killed over 19 people and injured 50 more on top of the ecological
damage it caused. Even though it will pay for this 2015 disaster, one could argue that the
fortunes of this company would not have been the same had it not have such huge influence. This
is the same kind of influence that it has in the Australian society that has made it indispensable.
Technology is disrupting many industries and BHP being in the mining industry is also
experiencing these similar troubles. Given that the accident involving the autonomous trucks is
as a result of technological development, technology would help in explaining BHP’s role in
these incidents. One of them includes technology transfer and licensing issues for this company.
In the industry in which this company operates, a strong culture regarding technology transfer
lacks (Brueckner & Pforr, 2017). Therefore, organizations are always reluctant to transfer or
license their technologies out of fear that they might create business rivals out of their
competitors. Therefore, for the accidents involving these two autonomous trucks, the blame
should be pointed to the company that manufactured and assembled them if the investigations
find out that the collision was brought by mechanical failure (Diakov, Sanjdorj, & Jamsrandorj,
2019) . BHP would be blameless in such a situation because it is not privy to the operations of
the companies involved in the development of these trucks.
Another critical element in the technological environment that affects the organization in
regards to this incident is the empowerment of its supply chain partners. In the market within
which BHP operates, technology has reduced the product life cycle and this has allowed
suppliers to develop products faster (Campbell & Craig, 2016). Such elements have placed
pressure on companies like BHP to keep its suppliers happy through the promotion of a wide
range of products. Such issues have added the operation costs of BHP. Given that the research
and development on technology are still taking place at both the macro and micro levels in
Australia, one can understand the problems that the company still faces, therefore, making it
difficult for the company to eliminate the accidents that it has (Young & Burgess, 2010) . The
creative disruption that the industry is still experiencing is believed to have played a key role in
these accidents because of the many experiments still being done to ensure that the right balance
Environmental factors have also played a key part in the operations of BHP because even
after the accident that happened last month, the company’s first statement was to blame heavy
rainfalls in the region. This was a very viable explanation because extreme weather conditions
have been known to cause different calamities across various industries. In fact, the company has
often identified extreme weather conditions as a key interference to its activities, particularly the
supply chain operations (Salimzadeh, 2016). Due to these conditions, the company has had to
invest in supply chain operations in a bid to make them more flexible. The fact that the company
has reportedly increased its investments in supply chain sector is an indicator that it is doing all it
can to make sure that its operations in these areas remain flawless (Schoenberger, 2016) . One
could question the company’s use of these autonomous trucks, but since BHP has been using
them without any problems for quite some time, it is right to suggest that weather played a big
part in this accident.
Customer activism is another environmental issue that has enabled the company to
become more socially responsible. BHP operates in an industry where the risk of an accident is
very high and could be fatal if the right standards are not applied. Certain companies have been
known to overlook these issues because they think that the public is not aware of these issues
(Lahiri-Dutt, 2018). However, things are very different in Australia where such companies are
expected to release comprehensive reports regarding their approach towards their mining
activities and the action steps they are taking to protect the environment as well as guarantee
public safety. Environmental norms have also changed the priorities of product innovation
meaning that developments that BHP has done in recent times have met the set standards and
expectations (Tost, Hitch, Chandurkar, Moser, & Feiel, 2018) . From this analysis, it would be
wrong to assume that BHP should bear the responsibility to this accident because none of its
external operational issues indicate that it made any visible mistake.
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