Partnering with Indigenous Stakeholders

AngloGold Ashanti Tropicana

 

Background

AngloGold Ashanti Australia’s proactive approach to stakeholder liaison is demonstrated by its approach to dealing with local, indigenous communities. To date, AngloGold Ashanti Australia has been awarded some Au$30m (approximately $29.1m) in contracts to Aboriginal groups at the Tropicana mine. In an effort to facilitate further indigenous participation, the region has taken the innovative step of custom-designing some of its contracts to entice new, smaller players.

The most recent contract was signed in November 2012 at a ceremony at the group’s Perth office. The five-year contract for operating the light vehicle workshop at Tropicana was awarded to Triodia Macmahon Joint Venture, an alliance between the indigenous business Triodia Mining and Macmahon Contractors. The contract will be operated as a joint venture (JV).

Triodia is run by Terry Gordon, of the Gordon family group – descendants of the Wongatha and Spinifex peoples – the traditional custodians of the lands upon which Tropicana is located. A number of family members are involved at Tropicana. Sandra Evans and Pam Gordon are involved with cross-cultural training at the site, while Terry manages the mining side of the business. His mother, matriarch Nancy Gordon, spoke at the signing ceremony. “This JV with Macmahon is a big step forward and a great opportunity for my people, and will help provide a better future for the younger generations.  For me, it’s a dream come true. It’s going to be a long road, but we are ready to make it work,” she said.

Doorn-Djil Yoordaning General Manager (the Indigenous business development arm of Macmahon Contractors), Tony Noonan said the agreement marked the first commercial venture by the East Wongatha people and would support the remote community through funding of development programmes from the JV profits.

AngloGold Ashanti’s commitment to the promotion of indigenous business began in the 1990s when indigenous contract miner Carey Mining received its first contract at the Sunrise Dam Gold Mine – a relationship that has since been expanded to include Tropicana where Carey Mining provides ancillary mining fleet and personnel services through its role as a sub-contractor to Macmahon Contractors.

Aim

“We have put a lot of thought into how we could construct some contracts to provide opportunities for smaller Aboriginal businesses,” Tropicana General Manager Duncan Gibbs said. “Most of the Aboriginal businesses and aspirants in the area, with the exception of Carey Mining, are family-type businesses, and relatively small, so the challenge has been to make it possible for them to compete for our contracts.”

Methods

Indigenous groups in the area include the Wongatha People of the Goldfields region of Western Australia (WA) and the Tjuntjuntjara (Spinifex) Community to the east of the project. The first step, and part of Tropicana’s environmental approvals process, was to engage with potential indigenous stakeholders. This followed earlier community meetings that had been held in Kalgoorlie-Boulder and the remote Tjuntjuntjara community where potential indigenous enterprises had been able to express interest.

To overcome the challenge of scale for indigenous entrants, AngloGold Ashanti unbundled and designed a number of smaller packages for both construction and operational contracts at Tropicana – targeting the existing skills and capability of the local businesses.

Results

Although tapping into the construction side of the business proved a challenge, there was more success on the operational side and a number of new contracts have been awarded to groups including Bundarra, SMC Services and Triodia Mining.

The longest running of these contracts is the Bundarra day works contract, which has been in place since late 2011. Headed up by Brett and Patricia Lewis, the Leonora-based company was selected from a number of applicants. According to Gibbs, it was the group’s track record and recommendations from other industry organisations that gave Bundarra the winning edge. The company currently has six staff based at Tropicana and with a fleet of small equipment, including a front-end loader, backhoe and trucks, it is responsible for rubbish collection at the operations and the residential village, providing assistance to exploration crews through services such as track clearing, sump excavations and rehabilitation works. Bundarra also undertakes some small scale earthworks across the site and delivers fuel to mobile power generation plants.

Bundarra also provides services to a number of other parties in the northeast Goldfields region, as well as to the Jabiru base metal mine in WA, which belongs to Independence Group, Tropicana’s JV partner.

A more recent contract recipient is SMC Services, run by David Canning, previously a commercial manager with Anaconda Nickel (the original owner and operator) at Murrin Murrin nickel mine. Canning left to establish his own company which established and ran the on-site laundry service (now closed). SMC now operates the retail shop at the Murrin Murrin nickel mine and a similar service at the Boddington Gold Mine south of Perth. SMC Services was awarded the wet mess (tavern) and retail services contract at Tropicana and has three employees on site.  The retail services include a small shop, post office facilities, espresso coffee and soft drink vending machines. This is another example of our effort to unbundle contracts to allow smaller companies to participate. The wet mess contract was separated from the standard catering contract, which in the case of Tropicana is held by ESS.

Critical Success Factors

Another facet of the local business promotion by AngloGold Ashanti Australia has been the engagement of Western Australia-based small business Red Ochre Consulting. The company specialises in providing business support and assists in the pre-screening of new or existing local small businesses wanting to contract to the company. Red Ochre has been retained to assist each of the new small businesses in developing the capabilities required to successfully deliver contractual obligations, as well as to promote prudent financial management practices.  This form of support has proved to be critical in ensuring that new contractors are able to compete successfully in the difficult mining environment.

Adapted from source: AngloGold Ashanti 2012 Online Sustainability Report, p80-81.

 

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