Diggers and Dealers 2019 day 1

A bar of gold

Find out what happened onstage and off at day one of Diggers and Dealers 2019.

While cutting the red tape hampering the mining industry’s progress was the central theme of several key presentations on day one of this year’s Diggers and Dealers, much of the focus away from the stage was on labour shortages.

Mining People General Manager of Professional and Technical Tony Turton said the mood in Kalgoorlie this year was “vibrant without being overly bullish”.

“In years gone by, in boom times, there was a lot of hype,” he said. “That’s non-existent this time. There’s some solidity behind it. It’s a good, strong mood without being overly optimistic.”

In his opening address, outgoing Diggers and Dealers Mining Forum Chairman Nick Giorgetta welcomed the Federal Government’s plan to cut red tape for the industry.

“We all accept that the industry needs to be regulated, but regulated by good laws, not just by more laws,” he said.

Federal Resources Minister Matt Canavan announced yesterday the Productivity Commission would conduct a year-long review of mining industry regulation, to identify ways to remove unnecessary business costs impacting the industry.

The Minister said: “Australia’s resources sector plays a vital role in sustaining our national prosperity, employing more than 247,000 people as at May 2019 and making up 73% of goods exports in 2018. It is, however, being held back by complex layers of state and federal regulations.”

The move was also welcomed by former Prime Minister John Howard, who was the keynote speaker at Diggers yesterday.

Miners focused on employee attraction and retention

But Mr Turton said skills and labour shortages were also a key theme – both onstage and off.

Onstage, Western Areas Managing Director and Chief Executive Dan Lougher outlined his company’s attraction and retention policies, which have resulted in about 70% of the middle management team having been with the company for more than six years.

Here’s a slide from the presentation. You can see the full presentation here.

A slide from the Western Areas presentation
How Western Areas is attracting and retaining Staff.

Independence Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Peter Bradford also highlighted the importance of building a great team and culture to his company’s success.

Through a suite of policies and improvements, Independence has seen a 37% reduction in the year-on-year turnover rate, a 25% increase in female employee numbers, and a 3% increase in Indigenous employees.

The company has also doubled its intake for its training and mentoring program to 14 people in 2020.

You can see the full Independence Group presentation here.

But it wasn’t just onstage that miners were focused on skills and labour. Mr Turton said on the convention floor, it was a popular topic of conversation.

“There’s a shortage of workers emerging,” he said. “The solution revolves around doing more to engage the youth coming through – getting kids in high school to do STEM subjects and things like that.”

Day two of this year’s Diggers forum will see Fortescue Metals’ Elizabeth Gaines and Roy Hill’s Barry Fitzgerald deliver their presentations.

Are your salaries and conditions of employment enough to keep turnover costs in check? Request a targeted remuneration and benefits research report to answer this question.

Dan Hatch
Mining People International