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Relationships a resource worth developing

RESOURCE developers increasingly are seeking to negotiate agreements with the indigenous communities in which they operate, with the days of expensive litigation over rights and access all but behind us.

Taking this approach a step further, Australian gold miner Normandy Mining Limited is trying to implement greater involvement of indigenous people across its entire operation, from employment to helping to establish Aboriginal businesses to service mine sites.

Normandy has involvement in nine gold mines in Australasia and is active in Africa, South America, the United States, Canada, Indonesia, Turkey and Greece.

Normandy is one of the largest employers of indigenous people in the private sector. The company’s aim is to always endeavour to match the composition of its workforce with that of neighbouring communities and regions.

The end of 2001 will mark the completion of the first of a three-year strategy to increase indigenous relationships across the Normandy group.

“One of our primary focuses relates to indigenous employment. Our short to medium-term target is 20 per cent of the workforce,” Normandy Indigenous Relations adviser Gail Reynolds-Adamson said.

“After its first year, the number of indigenous people employed by the company has exceeded early projections.”

Normandy’s National Indigenous Employment and Training Strategy (NIETS) plays a significant role in assisting the company increase employment within its folds, and more generally within the industry.

Launched in May 1999, Normandy’s NIETS program has been a catalyst for many of the 200 job opportunities provided by Normandy for indigenous people across Australia.

Similarly, Mining Access Training Courses, a product of the NEITS strategy, are held by Normandy each year. Mining Access Training requires participants to complete 16 weeks of studies and six weeks’ work experience on a mining site. The combination of theory and practical studies provides participants with the necessary skills to be employed at a mine site.

At the completion of the course, participants receive a formal qualification in metalliferous mining and have the necessary skills to seek employment at Normandy or with other mining companies and in related industries.

The idea of cross-cultural under-standing among employees is not a new one at Normandy. The company has a long-running program of cross-cultural awareness training, designed to prevent cultural difference being a barrier to a positive work experience for all employees.

The program will be significantly enhanced in the new year, when Normandy launches its new on-line indigenous learning program. The on-line tool will allow people to learn about Aboriginal culture from pre-recorded indigenous guides. It uses animation and audio features to en-hance stimulation and user enjoyment.

Normandy intends the interactive on-line tool to complement its existing cross-cultural awareness program and as an alternative delivery method for training at all levels of the organisation.

Parallel to its efforts in increasing indigenous employment, Normandy is working to assist the establishment of indigenous businesses to provide sustainable commercial stability within indigenous communities.

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