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There has been keen focus on workplace culture and diversity on the final day of the International Mining and Resources Conference (IMARC). Throughout the conference, mining leaders have acknowledged that if the industry does not act now to fix and change the culture, they will not be able to attract the staff required for the new resources boom.

Chief People Office at IGO, Sam Retallack told the conference “We as industry have broken the psychological contract of trust that we have with the community. We are seen as a cause of climate change not as a solution. We are seen as an unsafe workplace for females, we are seen as inflexible with our rostering and that you must commit to FIFO work. It’s not a particularly attractive proposition for new workers.”

Danielle Martin, Director of Social Performance at ICMM spoke to the substantial issues facing the industry as workforce skills change and evolve. 

“The competition for talent will be tricky for mining because the skills in many cases are less specific to mining and are applicable across other sectors,” said Ms Martin. “Because of the culture and perception of mining, it is a less attractive industry for many workers who could work in other industries.”

All is not lost however, Stuart Jenner, General Manager of Capability and Culture at Gold Road Resources reflected on the cultural issues the Australian Defence Force faced 20 years ago.  Changes to workplace culture will likely lead to an increase in the recruitment of new staff and the retention of key talent as the competition for skills intensifies. 

Mr Jenner said “Defence Force recreated its brand and aligned it with its purpose and mining needs to do the same. We need to be upfront, honest, and transparent to establish that purpose. The Defence Force pay no near what the mining industry does but because of their purpose, they have a huge amount of success in attracting talent.” 

There is a realisation from the sector that the industry must act now and push for the acknowledgment that these issues need to be addressed from the top down. 

Gavin Wood, Chief Information Officer at Newcrest Mining spoke to the delegates at IMARC explained the work they are doing to change culture with their existing workforce. 

Mr Wood said many existing staff at Newcrest grew up in mining areas and communities and that they need to give them the skills to interact with other aspects of the business and by virtue society. 

“If we do not give them these skills the culture will not change.” 

Over the 3-day conference mining leaders from across the globe have challenged the current standard of culture within the sector and have discussed ways to make the industry safer for all.