Diggers 2019 day 2: blinkers off as next-gen leaders take over

Find out what happened at day two of the Diggers and Dealers Mining Forum in Kalgoorlie, 2019.

The second day of Diggers and Dealers 2019 marked a real changing of the guard in the Australian mining industry, with a new generation of leadership showing they plan to make their mark on the sector.

It wasn’t just that some of the faces, like Regis Resources’ Jim Beyer and Fortescue’s Elizabeth Gaines, represented a new generation of chief executives. According to Mining People Managing Director Steve Heather, they also represented a generational shift in attitudes and approaches to recruitment and employment that was a very good sign for the industry.

READ MORE: Diggers and Dealers 2019 Day One

“These are younger people, often in their first or second senior leadership job, and that’s really good because you can see there’s an understanding of some of the younger generation’s cultural beliefs and they’re wanting to bring into the workforce,” he said.

“They’re interested in diversity, inclusiveness, flexibility of working programs and hours — just a lot of things the younger generation wants.

“While there are still a lot of wise heads on boards, the changing of the guard at the MD level, at the executive level, is just sounding like a very positive thing.”

Miners well aware of labour shortage worries

Mr Heather said from the conversations with industry executives he’d had at Diggers so far, it was clear many were very aware the industry had “pushed ourselves into a potential shortage” of labour, but that such a situation could still be avoided if managed well.

“There’s a willingness of senior leaders to look at diversity, take the blinkers off, look at a wider talent pool – and if they don’t, then they really are going to end up with a skills shortage but there doesn’t need to be one,” he said.

Mr Heather noted many presenters on the main stage had mentioned their recruitment and retention practices and achievements this year.

“Often in the past you wouldn’t have had mining companies talking about their HR and recruitment policies,” he said. “It’s great to see it being talked about at that senior level.”

Mood of calmness and optimism

Overall, Mr Heather said there was a mood of “real calmness and steady progression” to this year’s Diggers and Dealers, which he believed was reflective of where the industry is at the moment.

“There’s not the manic promotion this year,” he said. “A lot of companies have moved beyond the exploration phase and they’ve got a project that’s either being studied or it’s been brought into production, so there’s a different tone. It’s one of getting it right — dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s.


Mining People International has more than 25 years’ specialist experience helping mining companies with their HR services. Find out more about our HR consulting serviceshere or get in touch today.


Dan Hatch
Mining People International