More women, more safety needed in mining

Resources and Northern Australia minister Madeleine King has urged the mining industry to do more to encourage women to have careers in the resources sector.

Hosting a roundtable in Brisbane on jobs and skills in the mining sector, King heard from industry about what they are doing to invest in, develop and attract skilled workers to sustain its crucial role supporting the Australian economy.

Using the event to outline some of the workforce challenges facing the sector, she said the resources sector employs more than 270,000 men and women and accounted for 10 per cent of Australia’s Gross Domestic Product. Resources and energy export earnings reached a new record of $414 billion in the past financial year.

“With intense demand for Australia’s sustainably sourced and high quality minerals, will come intense demand for the workers responsible for producing them,” King said.

“With the mining workforce already around all-time highs and projects worth tens of billions of dollars coming through the development pipeline, there will be a significant need for more workers.

“This challenge is already here. Industry must find a way to attract the next generation of mining workers in order to continue flourishing.”

King said one way to increase skills supply is to employ more women in the sector. Latest data shows around 52,000 women are employed in the resources sector.

She said the Enough is Enough report into sexual harassment in Western Australia’s mining industry was an important wake-up call for the sector and underlined the need for more inclusive workplaces for women in the industry.

“The serious and disturbing issues raised by the Enough is Enough report cannot be confined to one state,” she said.

“It is critical that governments and industry work together to ensure we have safe and inclusive workplaces that welcome and encourage women to have rewarding careers in the mining sector.”

The roundtable came a week after the Government legislation to lock in its emissions reduction targets, including an interim target to reduce emissions by 43 per cent by 2030, passed through the House of Representatives.

King said Australia’s mining sector will play a crucial role to help Australia reach its net-zero by 2050 commitments, and also be a key to global action to reduce emissions by providing the raw materials for low-emissions technologies, such as rare earths for wind turbines or lithium for batteries.

The Brisbane Jobs and Skills roundtable included representatives from peak industry bodies including the Minerals Council of Australia, APPEA, Queensland Resources and NSW Minerals Councils, senior indigenous representation from the Barada Barna Aboriginal Corporation, community representatives, mining skills organisations, local government, and representatives of the mining equipment, technology and services sector (METS).

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