#AceNewsReport – July.01: The Waanyi people have signed a collaborative deal with New Century Resources, and a recent feasibility study shows that work is expected to start next year: The Century Zinc Mine is in north-west Queensland, about 250 kilometres north of Mount Isa: Production at Century began in 2000 using open-pit mining, grinding and flotation of zinc inside a Lawn Hill mine site, situated on Waanyi traditional land: However, with New Century Resources’ takeover of MMG’s Karumba port facility in 2017, mining activities have increased: The new project, set to start at the end of 2020, is an expansion of East Fault Block and South Block operations, mining into hard rock for zinc product: On Waanyi traditional land, the new pits are planned to be located less than three kilometres north of New Century’s current tailings dam: A zinc refinery in the Gulf of Carpentaria is set to employ 50 per cent Indigenous workers in an industry first for Australia.
- The joint partnership between mining services agency Downer and the Waanyi people locks in 50 per cent Indigenous employment
- The deal builds on a partnership with the Waanyi people struck last year providing training facilities and programs
- Areas such as Mornington Island and Doomadgee have seen a resurgence in education and participation rates
The race for Indigenous inclusion in Australian mines has been building for the past decade, with Rio Tinto and BHP pushing for 20 to 30 per cent Indigenous staff — a figure they are looking to grow: To reach half Indigenous employment, this partnership was signed between mining services agency Downer and the Waanyi people.
Head of corporate affairs for New Century Resources, Shane Goodwin, said Indigenous locals will be contracted under New Century, and paid for that work like any other mining contract: “The nature of that joint venture means that profits will be split between Downer and the Waanyi traditional owners,” Mr Goodwin said: “That way it can drive employment for Waanyi people, but also it will allow them to utilise those funds as they see fit with their own people.
“It’s the only [deal] of its type that we’ve been able to identify in Australia.”
According to an announcement to the ASX last month, the new project will be utilising 400 employees — 200 of which will be local Indigenous workers: Other mining companies have previously utilised a higher number of Indigenous employees, however the percentage employment of Indigenous workers on the project will be setting a new record for Australia’s mining industry.
The Waanyi people inhabit the Lawn Hill National Park area and have connections throughout Doomadgee over to Mornington Island: Chairman of the Waanyi Public Council, Alec Doomadgee, said although Waanyi people span across to the Northern Territory and to the Garrwa people, their main connection is with the Gulf area where New Century Resources’ mine site is located: “The [national] park itself is probably one of the most spectacular gorges in the region. It is eye-catching country for the Waanyi mob,” Mr Doomadgee said.
The recent employment deal with New Century was developed from a previous partnership with the Waanyi people struck last year, providing training facilities and programs: Since the dredging and re-opening of the Karumba port at the end of 2018, Mr Doomadgee said the Waanyi people have been working toward economic development and opportunities for their people.
“We’ve currently got the Century Mine training contract, and that’s been rolled-out through the Waanyi Downer Joint Venture,” Mr Doomadgee said.
“The training itself doesn’t have to be solely about mining. We’ve taken a bit of a different approach to it.”
The programs have expanded into various skill training from horsemanship to military courses for younger Indigenous people, with successes already showing: Areas such as Mornington Island and Doomadgee have seen a resurgence in education and participation rates since last year: “We’ve had a teacher aide in Mornington Island, and have just had reports back that she’s getting more children coming back into school,” Mr Doomadgee said: It is hoped that the training will increase overall education and employment rates for remote Indigenous areas struggling with crime and homeless rates……………..”I’ve got a lot of family and friends up in the north region that are suffering from no employment and general self-worth. So this has a long lasting impact,” he said: Despite small wins already being seen, Mr Doomadgee said wider results are unlikely to show themselves until ten years down the track: “It’s a work in progress, but it’s definitely a lot better than what it was before,” he said: “A kid that’s sixteen years old right now that goes into a training program, goes onto study business, when he’s 26 that’s when we’ll see the effects: “Whilst there’s a bit of attention on the lower Gulf, we’ve got to raise up not just our people, but others too. No matter what mob you are.”
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