Mining projects in Australia have helped in providing people with a source of livelihood, whether by supplying a portable diesel tank or hiring workers.
The industry, in particular, has employed more Indigenous Australians since the 1990s, as it has reached to more than 7,000 people by 2011. This is according to an Asia and Pacific Policy Studies Centre research. During the ‘90s, the sector only employed indigenous people from “the hundreds.”
Employment of Aboriginal Australians stemmed from the implementation of more Indigenous Land Use Agreements. These deals between mining companies and indigenous communities focused on negotiating native titles, including compensation and cultural site preservation.
The study also noted that regions with mining activity tend to have more indigenous workers. Non-mining regions, for instance, have had a 39 per cent employment rate. The figure is at 43 per cent in rural areas. Projects such as Rio Tinto’s Amrun bauxite project in Queensland have contributed to this increase. The Amrun project has employed 470 Australians.
Aside from providing jobs, mining companies have also enriched the lives of indigenous communities by offering training initiatives, as well as educational and scholarship programmes. Rio Tinto has provided some of these through its Indigenous Scholarship Programme. Fortescue Metals Group’s Jawun project places skilled workers in indigenous to mentor indigenous community leaders.
Another milestone this year includes the Gulkula Regional Training Centre and Gulkula bauxite mine in the Northeast Arnham Land, Northern Territory. The facilities will not only provide jobs to the local Yolngu community, but also improve the area’s economy. The Gumatj clan fully owns the training centre and mining operations, which is perhaps the best part.
The employment market certainly benefits from several mining projects in Australia. However, companies have realised that there are more ways for their projects to have a better impact on local communities.