... is the nation’s 6th largest export earner ... earned $14 billion of export revenue in 2014-15 ... is the 2nd largest producer of gold in the world

Regional development

Australian gold companies work closely with local communities and other stakeholders to ensure the economic and social benefits from gold mining are strong and sustainable. In some regional and remote centres, the gold industry is the main source of economic activity, helping to ensure local communities remain stable and viable.

As well as being important providers of employment, apprenticeships and skills development opportunities, gold companies are directly involved in helping to build and maintain social and physical infrastructure in regional areas.

Ensuring Indigenous Australians share in employment and business opportunities flowing from the gold industry has been a major focus of activity in recent years. This includes efforts to engage and support Indigenous businesses within the procurement chain through various forms (as suppliers, joint venture partners or sub-contractors).

Gold companies recognise the importance of ongoing dialogue with a wide range of stakeholder groups, especially in the locations in which they operate. Dialogue with community stakeholders starts well before mining begins. Other stakeholders include employees and contractors, customers, suppliers, government agencies and non-government organisations.

Case Study 1: Gold Fields Australia Foundation

As part of a commitment to the sustainable development of communities adjacent to Gold Fields’ mines, the Gold Fields Australia Foundation in 2009 started a program of providing scholarships for Indigenous Australians to achieve tertiary qualifications.

2013 scholars – Kiera Kelly and Thomas Forrest2013 scholars – Kiera Kelly and Thomas Forrest

The aim of this program is to contribute to sustainable social and economic upliftment of local communities through education. A series of selection criteria has been developed for the program, of which the most important is that candidates have to be from, or have links with, local communities and, of course, have to be of Indigenous heritage. Following engagement with local communities, Gold Fields decided not to restrict the program to mining-related qualifications.

Since its establishment in 2009, 13 scholars have been granted tertiary educational assistance. Five scholars have completed their studies and moved on to gainful employment in the public and private sectors. The program has had a 100% success rate thus far. Candidates have completed or are in the process of completing the following tertiary qualifications:

  • Bachelor of Arts
  • Bachelor of Medicine
  • Bachelor of Sports Science
  • Bachelor of Science
  • Bachelor of Law
  • Bachelor of Science Engineering and Commerce
  • Bachelor of Health Science

These qualifications have been pursued through prestigious institutions such as the University of Western Australia, Murdoch University and the School of Mines. Currently seven students are pursuing their tertiary qualifications. The Gold Fields Australia Foundation provides the students with additional resources for mentorship and undertakes regular reviews of the students’ progress.

In 2013, Gold Fields plans to strengthen the program by providing successful candidates with access to mentors from Gold Fields in their chosen field of study. Interested candidates will also be given the option to participate in existing graduate development programs at Gold Fields. While these options are offered to the students on a voluntary basis, they are expected to significantly enhance the outcomes of the program.

Case study 2: KCGM – The Super Pit

On behalf of its joint venture owners Barrick Gold of Australia and Newmont Australia, Kalgoorlie Consolidated Gold Mines (KCGM) manages the large gold mining and mineral processing operations on the fringe of the city of Kalgoorlie-Boulder.

Currently, KCGM is the second largest gold producing operation in Australia, producing 654,000 ounces in 2012. The operation is supported by a gold reserve which stands at 8.8 million ounces and when completed, it is expected to be 3.6 kilometres long, 1.6 kilometres wide and up to 650 metres deep.

KCGM has embraced its role as a member of Kalgoorlie-Boulder, a city of 35,000 people. Community relations personnel are situated at the Super Pit Shop to facilitate an open door approach to mine related enquiries. Opened in 2005, the shop welcomes more than 28,000 residents and tourists each year. In December 2012, KCGM relocated the Super Pit Shop to the Hannans North Tourist Mine, formerly known as the Australian Mining and Prospecting Hall of Fame. The shop relocation was undertaken as part of the Hannans North Tourist Mine rejuvenation project, a community investment which aims to develop a sustainable tourism business for Kalgoorlie-Boulder.

KCGM contributes approximately $252.4 million annually to the local economy through salaries, wages and the use of local suppliers. This is complemented by an active community investment program which supports community capacity building activities.

At 31 December 2012, KCGM had 845 full time employees and 395 contractors on site. Not only do employees live and work in the community, they also contribute to its social fabric through participation in KCGM’s volunteer program. In 2012 this saw KCGM staff contribute more than 889 hours of volunteer time to local events and initiatives.

Case Study 3: Barrick – Cowal gold mine & Wiradjuri people

Barrick Cowal gold mine, located 38km west of West Wyalong in central New South Wales, is on the traditional lands of the Wiradjuri people. During the initial exploration component of the project, senior site management engaged with the local Aboriginal people, aiming to foster a positive relationship prior to mine development. This initial engagement process resulted in 18 months of extensive consultation and negotiation, which led to the signing of a Native Title Agreement between the traditional owners and Barrick.

The agreement contained a number of provisions relating to employment, cultural heritage management, training and business development. The agreement, like many in Australia between Aboriginal groups and the mining industry, recognised the rights of the Wiradjuri people, and looked to improve the socioeconomic position of the traditional owners of the land on which the mine operates.

Barrick approached the negotiation of this agreement with the attitude that: ‘We have an opportunity to make a positive difference to the local Wiradjuri people’. From that perspective, the implementation of the agreement was focussed on working to achieve the intent of the formal Native Title Agreement in addition to complying with the specific terms and conditions that it contains. This approach changed the way Barrick Cowal viewed the agreement and the responsibilities that arose from it. Rather than seeing the agreement as a set of obligations the company must adhere to, Barrick viewed it as an opportunity to exceed compliance to develop outcomes to the mutual advantage of both partners.

Under the terms of the agreement, Barrick supports the Wiradjuri community in areas of environmental and cultural heritage, employment, training and education, and business development. As a result of the agreement, the Wiradjuri Condobolin Corporation (WCC) was established to facilitate the business, education, and employment opportunities for the Wiradjuri people.

The WCC established the Wiradjuri Cultural Heritage Company that Barrick has engaged to manage Wiradjuri heritage protection activities during the mine’s development and ongoing operation. The Cultural Heritage Management Plan facilitated the development of a Ground Disturbance Procedure (GDP) for the Cowal mine. This GDP is a comprehensive process that facilitates Wiradjuri people visiting the site to complete on-the-ground assessments, ensuring no cultural heritage materials are damaged. At the height of mine development activities, more than 60 Wiradjuri cultural heritage field officers, working with qualified archaeologists, were responsible for identifying and preserving many artefacts found at the site.

At completion of the mine’s operation, Barrick is committed to work with the Wiradjuri cultural heritage officers and archaeologists to return to culturally appropriate locations the artefacts which were removed during construction and ongoing operations.

Also under the agreement, the Wiradjuri Scholarship Program has supported a total of 19 young Wiradjuri people to attend university. In 2012, two scholarships were awarded in collaboration with the WCC. Cowal’s total investment in the Wiradjuri scholarships to date is almost $75,000. This investment has supported education in the fields of teaching, nursing, human movement and exercise science, community service, media and communication, and aged care.

The Wiradjuri Traineeship Program, launched in 2010, is aimed at building the capacity of young Wiradjuri people living in the local community. The program was expanded in 2011 through the development of partnerships with local industry. In 2012, two young Wiradjuri trainees completed their traineeships and received qualifications in their chosen vocations.

Cross-cultural understanding is an important element for encouraging employment opportunities for Indigenous peoples at our sites and for fostering a culturally-sensitive work environment for Indigenous and non-Indigenous employees. Through the Wiradjuri Cultural Heritage Company, a comprehensive cultural awareness induction course is provided for all new Barrick employees and contractors at the Cowal mine. The training is designed to help employees and contractors understand the issues linked to Indigenous peoples and assist them in understanding the importance of the partnership with the Wiradjuri people to the Cowal mine’s ongoing operations.

The Wiradjuri Study Centre (WSC) opened in September 2011. The WSC is an inclusive centre that aims to develop socio-economic opportunities for Wiradjuri people through employment and training programs in a culturally appropriate manner. The WSC was established as a direct result of the Native Title Agreement and continues to play a vital role in showcasing the capacity of the WCC and the broader Wiradjuri community.

The approach undertaken by Barrick and the Wiradjuri has resulted in a number of positive outcomes – most importantly, it has resulted in a genuine commitment to build the long term capacity of the Wiradjuri people. This in turn has resulted in Barrick supporting initiatives that have fallen outside the provisions of the agreement yet are strategically aligned with the underlying ‘intent of the agreement’.

This approach takes the focus away from compliance and towards ‘delivery on the intent’. Ensuring accountability and responsibility, this approach continues to deliver positive outcomes for both Barrick Cowal gold mine and the Wiradjuri people.