BHP Billiton, the world’s largest diversified resource company at the start of the 21st century, began a feasibility study in 1995 for building an aluminum smelter project in the Maputo province in southern Mozambique?one of the world’s poorest countries that was hampered by fragile legal, financial, and health, safety, environmental, and community institutional structures and capacity. BHP Billiton was committed to sustainable development and believed that social and environmental performance were critical factors in business success. BHP Billiton believed firmly that sustainable development involved engaging and partnering with its community stakeholders to address the challenges associated with establishing resource projects and to share the benefits of success. Was this possible in Mozambique, given the nation’s social and political challenges, the prevalence of malaria and HIV, and the weak infrastructure? Acknowledging that stakeholders had a role to play in achieving a successful and sustainable project, BHP Billiton adopted this slogan for the project: “Together we make a difference.” The company called the project “Mozal.” But would or could they be successful? And at what cost?
Darden Business Publishing – University of Virginia