BHP'S Local Buying Program recently celebrated a major milestone, with more than $500 million in approved spend, since its launch in 2012.
In that time, the initiative has worked with more than 1450 businesses, including many in Muswellbrook; on over 36,000 work packages, with an average payment period of just 13 days.
"The Local Buying Program enables our small business suppliers to grow and develop their companies as we have grown ours," BHP president Minerals Australia Edgar Basto said.
"It has brought our operations and local small businesses closer together.
"It's also increased capability across the local supply chain and boosted regional economic development in our host communities.
"The program has grown from supporting our Queensland operations in 2012 to now supporting our operations in Western Australia, South Australia and NSW.
"It is more important than ever in the current environment, and is growing at the fastest rate since its inception, with half the $500 million committed in the previous two years alone."
The program makes it easier for small business owners to competitively bid for supply opportunities through a streamlined onboarding, procurement and payment process that includes 21-day payment terms or less.
Small businesses have greater access to work opportunities with BHP through a central online directory.
"We designed the program to make it simpler for local small businesses to work with us - and the response has been fantastic," BHP group procurement officer Sundeep Singh said.
"We continue to work with small and local businesses across the country to improve and grow the program."
BHP partner C-Res manages the initiative and administers all transactional activities, while also providing ongoing support, engagement and mentoring to registered local suppliers.
"The Local Buying Program is something very special," C-Res CEO Tracey Cuttriss-Smith said.
"We knew from the start this was a vital and much-needed program.
"We knew the opportunity it could bring small businesses and how it would underpin BHP's charter to support and nurture the businesses, communities and people in the areas where they operate.
"What we didn't expect was the breadth and scope of our growth.
"This kind of milestone was not even in the realms of our imagination when we started in 2012."
The Local Buying Programs in Queensland and NSW are also supported by the Local Buying Foundation.
The foundation's role is to support and deliver economic business programs to help build capacity and capability of regional small businesses.