The minerals sector in Australia contributes $3 billion in native title related payments each year, according to a new monograph launched by the Minerals Council of Australia last night.
Authored by Professor Marcia Langton, From Conflict to Cooperation looks at the shift in relationship between indigenous Australians and mining business in Australia over the past two decades.
Langton identified the expansion in relations, from the necessity of land-access agreements to industry-led employment programs, and increasing investment in procurement from indigenous businesses.
“The transformative capacity of agreement-making is evident in the collaboration between Indigenous parties and minerals companies in Australia that has extended the engagement beyond the legal requirements for land access for projects,” Langton said.
“Mutually beneficial agreement-making has produced substantial Indigenous employment and enterprise outcomes.”
The monograph showed that apart from native title payments, the mining sector spent approximately $2.2 billion with indigenous businesses in 2014.
The mining industry is now a major driver of employment and economic development in indigenous communities, and employs more indigenous Australians than any other sector.
However, Langton has suggested that the industry has reached full capacity of what it can do to “close the gap”, and that policy reform will be required to maximise indigenous employment, including youth education and training programs, improved governance in agreement-making, and adoption of the Indigenous Community development Corporation model (ICDC).
Langton said the ICDC would unlock potential for greater indigenous economic empowerment.
“The immediate and future business case for the ICDC structure to better generate economic participation for Indigenous communities is significant”, Langton said.