Indigenous employment in the Australian minerals industry

Tony Tiplady and Mary Anne Barclay

This report presents the findings of the Minerals Industry Indigenous Employment Research Project, a collaborative research project between CSRM, Rio Tinto and other companies that have been active in the field of indigenous employment. Key objectives of the project were to:

  • inform the minerals industry and policy makers about key trends and issues relating to indigenous employment in the minerals industry
  • develop a toolkit to assist mining companies achieve improved indigenous employment outcomes
  • develop a standard framework for evaluating and comparing the indigenous employment practices of mining operations
  • facilitate the sharing of good practice within the industry.

The study involved 12 site visits, 113 face-to-face interviews, a practitioners’ workshop, a review of published and unpublished research, and the collection and analysis of a comprehensive array of site data, including internal company reports and employment statistics.

Factors that can make it difficult for indigenous people to obtain work in the minerals industry include:

  • lack of education and relevant training
  • lack of exposure to the mainstream workforce, the ‘industrial culture’ of the mining industry and the expectations of employers
    geographical isolation
  • the challenges involved in balancing family and community obligations with the demands of full-time work
  • poor health and difficulties in complying with drug and alcohol testing regimes.

For mining companies wishing to employ more Indigenous people the obstacles include:

  • the lack of a ‘job-ready’ labour pool
  • insufficient appreciation of how socio-economic disadvantage impacts on the recruitment and retention of indigenous employees. 

Tiplady, A. & Barclay, M. A. (2007). Indigenous employment in the Australian minerals industry. CSRM: Brisbane.

Indigenous employment in the Australian minerals industry