It was also the first time that a ship has been refueled with biofuel in Singapore, the world's largest bunkering hub.
A biofuel blend derived from certified sustainable feedstock sources such as cooking oil, crude tall oil and sewage sludge was used on April 4 to refuel the 81,000 deadweight tonne dry bulk carrier Kira Oldendorff which was on its way from Australia to Europe.
The blend required no significant modifications to the engine or other components, BHP spokesman Satish Rajmohan said.
The mining giant is exploring the use of bunker fuels such as liquefied natural gas and biofuels to replace fuel oil, aiming to reduce carbon emissions by 40% when shipping its products as part of the company's climate change goals for 2030.
The biofuel blend used is said to reduce well-to-exhaust CO2 emissions by 80% to 90% compared with conventional residual fuel oils, BHP said in a statement.
Rajmohan said enough was loaded to trial the biofuel over a number of days, a significant portion of the vessel's voyage. He declined to comment on the price of the biofuel, citing a confidentiality agreement.
The shipping industry is examining a range of technologies as it looks to meet an International Maritime Organization target of a 50% reduction in overall greenhouse gas emissions from 2008 levels by 2050.
Consultancy Wood Mackenzie says global demand for oil-based marine fuels is set to fall in the next three decades as stricter carbon emissions rules for the shipping industry kick in and alternative fuel use climbs.
The biofuel was supplied by GoodFuels and in partnership with German shipping group Oldendorff Carriers and the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore.