BHP acquired full ownership of the Cerro Matoso ferro-nickel mine in Colombia but was involved in extraction from the start in 1982.  In the 1990s evidence started to emerge of the devastating health impacts on local indigenous (Zenú and Embera) and African-descent communities which was subsequently confirmed by the Colombian Institute of Legal Medicine and Forensic Science and presented to the Colombian Constitutional Court. Alarmingly high rates of miscarriage, birth defects and cancer were found to be widespread in nearby communities and have been linked to the heavy metal contamination found in local air, soil and water.

See BHP 2015 below for further developments and legacy issues.