SYDNEY—The world’s biggest mining company is plotting a new future. It wants to focus solely on mining.

BHP Group Ltd. said it is considering selling its oil-and-gas business in what would rank as one of the energy industry’s biggest deals this year: Analysts estimate the unit could be worth at least $15 billion. It is talking with Australia’s Woodside Petroleum Ltd. about a possible deal in which BHP shareholders would receive Woodside stock.

BHP has long justified its oil-and-gas investment—which sets it apart from mining rivals—as a way to hedge against swings in prices of other commodities, such as iron ore.

That stance hasn’t always chimed with shareholders. Four years ago, activist investor Elliott Management Corp. bought a stake and urged sweeping changes, including unloading oil and gas assets.

BHP’s review of the business ahead of a possible sale is further…

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