• A WA parliamentary inquiry into sexual harassment in the FIFO mining industry has issued a damning report into the sector
  • 24 recommendations include a call for WA’s mines department to introduce a system to stop offenders popping up on new mine sites
  • Gold miner Ramelius says it will miss guidance after rainfall, labour shortages hit WA gold operations

 

A parliamentary committee dedicated to exposing the depth of the issue of sexual assaults and harassment against women at WA mine sites wants a system established to stop serial offenders popping up at new mine sites.

The call is among 24 recommendations and 79 findings from an inquiry that exposed the under reporting of sexual violence within the Pilbara’s FIFO juggernaut, sparked by reports of assaults at mines including those owned by BHP (ASX:BHP) and Fortescue Metals Group (ASX:FMG).

It has emerged as one of the industry’s biggest public challenges in recent times, headlined by an internal Rio Tinto (ASX:RIO) report that found bullying, racism and sexual harassment was rife at its mining operations and broader business.

Among the recommendations, the committee chaired by MP Libby Mettam has recommended WA authorities explorer introducing a system like a register or working with children check to ensure miners who are let go for sexual harassment or assault are not bounced around the industry.

“Of course, we understand the concept of a register of sexual harassment offenders raises matters of confidentiality and challenges of natural justice as well as the threshold for inclusion,” Mettam said in the report.

“We have recommended that Government explore options which could operate effectively and fairly to prevent habitual sexual harassment offenders continuing to be re-employed in the mining workplace.

“This is an important matter that could be effective as a deterrent as well as adding to site safety by the permanent removal of perpetrators.”

The committee has also recommended DMIRS, the WA mines department, issue formal guidance to miners to stop the use of non-disclosure agreements to settle complaints about sexual assaults in the workplace, improve reporting lines for workers and that miners work to bring more female employees into the industry particularly in site level management and supervisor positions.

 

Miners respond

Miners and political leaders have begun to respond to the report’s findings, with the large miners’ main lobbying group the Chamber of Minerals and Energy WA saying “any recommendations that could be meaningfully implemented would add to the extensive work the sector was already doing to ensure safe and respectful working environments.”

“The industry has recognised substantial issues around psychosocial hazards in our workplace,” the CME’s acting CEO Rob Carruthers said in a press conference this afternoon.

“Really that began with mental health a number of years ago in a similar parliamentary inquiry report.

“There’s been incredible progress made since then but the work is not done, we need to continue to work on a leadership commitment to stamp out these behaviours.

“Health and safety both from a physical and psychological perspective should be number one in our industry and our commitment is to zero tolerance.”

Meanwhile Federal Resources Minister Madeleine King said the Commonwealth Government would support WA to take action on the inquiry’s findings.

“Any case of sexual harassment is one too many. Sadly, the inquiry has found that sexual harassment and assaults are much too common for women who choose to work in the FIFO workforce,” she said.

“The Australian Government stands ready to help the resources sector stamp out sexual harassment, which has no place in the modern workplace.

“I will work with my Western Australian counterpart, Minister Bill Johnston, to support the findings of the inquiry and to make sure our mining and resources industries are safe and supportive workplaces for the women and men who work in our mines, gas and oil industries.”

 

Ramelius guidance hammered by Covid

Ramelius Resources (ASX:RMS) is the latest WA miner to cop a whack from Covid, telling shareholders it will miss guidance on the back of labour shortages and heavy rainfall in the second half the financial year.

The company has dropped its guidance from 260-265,000oz to 255-260,000oz but says there is no reason to think it will miss on its all in sustaining cost guidance of $1475-1525/oz.

Costs will likely be at the higher end.

“Due to more persistent rain than forecast, especially recently, on some of the haulage routes to both the Mt Magnet and Edna May operations, ongoing staff shortages due to COVID / influenza and a lower than forecast head grade from Tampia, it is expected that gold production for FY22 will fall marginally short of the current guidance range of 260,000 –265,000 oz,” the company said.

“This is despite the best efforts of the Ramelius and contractor teams in a challenging operating environment across the Western Australian resources industry.”

Ramelius shares were down almost 9% at 3pm AEST.

RMS is expected to provide guidance for FY23 with its fourth quarter results next month.

 

 

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