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Controversial former mining boss granted knighthood

Former BHP CEO Andrew Mackenzie
Former BHP CEO Andrew Mackenzie

A contentious past head of a multinational resources company has been bestowed an honorary title for his contribution to the industry.

Andrew Mackenzie recently received a knighthood according to the 2020 Queen’s Birthday Honour List. The former chief executive of BHP was recognised for his outstanding service to business, science, technology and Australia-United Kingdom relations on October 10.

The occasion is part of a century-old tradition where the Queen celebrates her official birthday by granting different people medals, decorations, and national or dynastic orders. Those granted the honorary title of knighthood have usually made a significant contribution to the monarch, church, country or military.

Former employer celebrates

BHP congratulated the former employee on his achievement.

“Andrew is well known for his scientific curiosity, commercial acumen and, above all, his belief that business can be a force for good, for shareholders and society alike,” Mackenzie’s successor Mike Henry said in a public statement.

“We saw that at BHP in many ways, from his approach to safety and productivity, and environmental stewardship, to the aspiration for a diverse and inclusive workplace. Andrew cared deeply about the big issues facing the world and Australia, including the rights of indigenous people, climate change and economic development.”

Workplace fatality fallout

Mackenzie’s six years as CEO ended in 2019 after he received a 24 per cent pay cut to US$3.5 million (A$5.1M) a year and resigned three months early, following a scathing review of his most recent work performance.

BHP’s renumeration committee rated Mackenzie’s performance as 48 out of 100 in the aftermath of the December 2018 death of coal miner Allan Houston, 49, whose bulldozer rolled from an elevated position with disastrous consequences at the Saraji Coal Mine, 231 km southwest of Mackay.

“This outcome took into account health, safety, environment and community (HSEC) performance, which primarily reflected the tragic fatality that occurred at the Saraji coal mine in Queensland, Australia in December 2018,” committee chairwoman Carolyn Hewson said at the time.

“The committee took advice from the sustainability committee, giving the group’s safety performance the greatest weighting in the HSEC category.”

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