'Freedom from slavery' is one of the most fundamental freedoms that applies to all people.

What is modern slavery?

Modern slavery refers to situations where one person takes away another person's freedom so that they can be exploited. "Modern slavery" is an umbrella term, encompassing the offences of slavery, servitude, forced or compulsory labour, forced marriage and human trafficking.

Modern slavery is wholly unacceptable within our company and supply chain, and combatting it is a priority. With an estimated 40 million men, women and children living in modern slavery today (ILO and Walk Free Foundation), it affects almost every region and with increasingly globalised trade and interconnected supply chains, it affects most businesses.

Why do we focus on modern slavery?

We recognise the important role South32 can play in addressing modern slavery within our sphere of influence. Modern slavery is extreme criminal behaviour.  Yet, why people end up in circumstances of modern slavery is tied to a multitude of complex and interconnected root cause issues such as inequality, discrimination, conflict, corruption, lack of education and inability to access justice.

At South32 we are committed to developing and implementing policies and procedures which aim to reduce the risk of modern slavery at our operations and in our supply chains. This includes providing humans rights training and education as well as promoting safe pathways for vulnerable workers to access work opportunities, which can assist in addressing the root causes of modern slavery.

Modern Slavery Act Reporting

South32 actively supported the introduction of an Australian Modern Slavery Act, participating in parliamentary consultative processes and co-signing a letter in support of the proposed Bill to the Prime Minister alongside leading civil society organisations, investors and businesses. South32 has been voluntarily reporting under the UK Modern Slavery Act 2015 for a number of years.

Addressing modern slavery is a journey of continual improvement at South32.  Each year, our statements build upon the depth of our previous modern slavery work. Our annual reporting describes the work we invest in implementing effective systems, processes and capacity within our own organisation and supply chains to prevent modern slavery risks from occurring.

Read our Modern Slavery statements here:

We will continue to test the effectiveness of our approach, enhancing our actions and responses as we work towards best practice and helping to drive meaningful change for the individuals most affected by modern slavery. You can read our Conflict Minerals Statement here.

Supplier toolkit to help end modern slavery

We have joined forces with nine mining, energy and resource companies to develop a practical toolkit to pre-screen for modern slavery risks within supply chains:

Central to the toolkit is a self-assessment questionnaire with 18 core questions that the group have agreed to ask suppliers to identify modern slavery risks, improve transparency and identify areas for further due diligence.

This initiative recognises that suppliers are facing growing information requests due to modern slavery laws in Australia and the United Kingdom. By asking a common set of questions, this will streamline reporting, provide consistency and clarity.