Community respect equals business sense

AN OXIANA partnership wins Community Partnership of the Year.

An Oxiana community partnership initiative has won the Prospect Awards Community Partnership of the Year Award.

Oxiana partnered with the Bungala Aboriginal Corporation, Northern Regional Development Board, Federal Department of Workplace Relations, and TAFE South Australia to launch a program that helps local people get jobs at the Oxiana Prominent Hill mine.

The Pre-Employment Training program, launched in September 2006, allows local Indigenous and non-Indigenous people with little or no employment experience an opportunity to gain skills for a job in the mining industry.

The program also secures employees for Oxiana in a climate of skills and labour shortages.

The partnership means that the company can employ as many local people as possible at its operation, reducing the cost of transporting workers to the site.

After the satisfactory completion of the 60-day Pre-Employment Training program, including three weeks of work experience, successful trainees are offered permanent employment at Oxiana’s Prominent Hill operation.

Participants also receive a nationally accredited certificate two in metalliferous mining.

Preference is given to people living in local towns and regional communities in the Prominent Hill region.

The program is run at Coober Pedy TAFE, and is coordinated by a trainer with extensive experience in conducting similar programs.

Gail Reynolds-Adamson from Kepa Kurl coordinated the program in 2007.

The training program includes practical training needed to work in a mine, and assistance in making the transition from long term unemployment to full-time employment.

Successful trainees have gained jobs at Prominent Hill as loader and fork lift operators, crane chasers, grade control officers, core processing assistants, and driller’s offsiders.

Community benefits

The first eight students to graduate from the program were from the local towns of Coober Pedy, Oodnadatta and Port Augusta.

All successfully completed the program and are now working with Oxiana or the company’s contractor.

Oxiana received an overwhelming response to the program at information sessions hosted in Port Augusta, Oodnadatta and Coober Pedy, and over 150 applicants applied for the programs running in 2007.

On Monday 30 April 2007 the company’s second Pre-Employment Training program commenced in Coober Pedy.

Eight candidates were selected from the 150 applicants.

A third program is scheduled to run in late 2007.

The positive response from community and applicants shows the success of the program.

More than 30% of Prominent Hill employees and contractors were from Coober Pedy and the Upper Spencer Gulf region last year, including 5% of senior management.

Oxiana aims to further increase levels of local employment through active recruitment, training, and development.

The company’s Prominent Hill project is 650 km north-west of Adelaide, and 130 km south-east of Coober Pedy in South Australia.

Oxiana’s board of directors formally approved development of the Prominent Hill copper-gold mine on 25 August 2006.

The project will include development of an open-pit mine, a processing plant with an eight Mtpa capacity, a permanent village to accommodate a workforce of 400 people, haulage road, bore field, and power line.

Open-pit mine pre-stripping and site construction is on schedule for commercial production of copper and gold concentrates in the third quarter of 2008.

Highly commended

A Cross-Cultural Awareness Program, delivered through a partnership between Alcan Gove and the Yothu Yindi Foundation, is setting a high standard for working relationships between mining companies and traditional land owners.

The partnership is highly commended in this year’s Australian Mining Prospect Awards, with judges commending the education of workers entering the Nhulunbuy community.

The Cross-Cultural Awareness Program has been delivered to Alcan Gove employees for the past three years.

The program was expanded in 2005 following the announcement of a US$2.3 billion expansion of the alumina refinery in September 2004.

More than 1,500 construction workers will be integrated into the remote community of Nhulunbuy, on the Northern Territory Gove Peninsula, as a result of the expansion.

All presenters in the Cross-Cultural Awareness Program are elders from local Indigenous groups.

This enables participants to learn first-hand about Aboriginal history, culture, and politics from an Indigenous perspective.

The program is designed to promote understanding and knowledge sharing between the local Indigenous community and Alcan’s workforce.

The program has delivered a number of key sustainable benefits including positive relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous staff, direct employment for Indigenous presenters, and valuable skills gained from imparting knowledge to non-Indigenous audiences.

The program includes funding for a national Indigenous recording project that documents ancient dances and traditional practices.

According to Alcan, the program is helping minimise the expansion project’s impact on the Nhulunbuy Community, and has helped foster a shared understanding and respect for Indigenous culture.

More than 2,000 people have attended the course since January 2003.

Some participants have found it so valuable they have signed up for the course a second time.

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