A RECENT survey has found the unique Indigenous partnering and training schemes offered by some mining companies are helping to bring Indigenous communities and miners together in Native Title negotiations.
The Federal Government has recognised the relationship and invested $1.2 million in 2001 to promote the partnerships.
The Australian Bureau of Agriculture and Resource Economics (ABARE) Indigenous People in Mining survey found more than 60 per cent of mines employ an average of 10 full-time Indigenous workers – representing 5 per cent of the total mine (surveyed) employment figure.
With many Indigenous people possessing little or no training, and almost half of Australia’s mines located near remote Indigenous communities, the education and training programs administered by the mine sites are proving to be valuable for both parties.
According to the survey more than 80 per cent of mines surveyed contributed to Indigenous development, with 16 per cent allocating at least $250,000 to Indigenous communities in areas such as health, training, education, recreation, culture and environment.
But while half of the surveyed mine sites employed full-time Indigenous workers as intermediate production and transport workers, only 5 per cent of mine sites employed full-time Indigenous workers as managers and administrators.
Despite this lack of workers in managerial roles, ABARE executive director Brian Fisher said the survey showed encouraging signs that the relationship between the two was growing.
“Since the mining industry has a significant presence in remote locations within Australia, this industry is seen as an important provider of economic opportunities for Indigenous people,” Dr Fisher said.
Managing director at mining and civil engineering contractor Carey, Daniel Tucker, who was recently recognised with a Corporate Leader for Indigenous Employment award, said the survey gave an accurate reflection of the current situation.
“Over the past five to six years the relationship has strengthened notice-ably,” Mr Tucker said.
“Today there is hardly a mine site that does not have Aboriginal involvement.
“Now there are more opportunities for Aboriginal people . . . and it is good business for the mining industry in terms of land issues.
“It is a win-win situation.”
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