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Respect in action: 5 ways we work with indigenous people

Author: Glencore | Date: 22/02/2018

From Aboriginal people in Australia to First Nations communities in Canada, our assets are often in or near the traditional lands of indigenous communities.

Indigenous people’s links to these lands goes back far further than ours, but they often face socio-economic challenges. So we aim to build relationships with them based on respect, trust and mutual benefit. 

We engage openly with communities to understand their culture, views and aspirations. And when we plan projects, we seek “free, prior and informed consent”.

Supporting this, we have formal agreements in many places – from impact and benefit agreements in Canada to Indigenous Land Use Agreements in Australia.

All our work is in line with the relevant position statement from our industry body, the International Council on Mining and Metals - ICMM. 

Our projects

The projects we run with indigenous communities are a result of these agreements and principles. 

Much of our work seeks to tackle socio-economic challenges, through education, training and business development; some also focus on the environment. 

Here are some highlights of what we do across our business.

1. Building links with the help of an NGO

Providing school bursaries for Aboriginal children; including Aboriginal business owners on procurement lists; promoting Aboriginal heritage and culture within our workforce.

These are just three of the steps we have taken at coal mines in the Hunter Valley, New South Wales, Australia, as a result of working with an NGO on the challenges faced by Aboriginal communities.

The NGO, Reconciliation Australia, aims to improve relationships between the wider Australian community and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Together with the NGOs, we created two action plans. The first, in 2012, focused on working together to understand the challenges. 

The second, in 2014, focused on building and strengthening relationships with Aboriginal people, promoting cultural awareness – and running projects in areas such as education, business, and skills development. 

2. Encouraging Inuit workers to achieve higher-level roles

In 1995, the Raglan Agreement was the first impact and benefit agreement signed in Canada between a mining company and a First Nations people.

Today, our Raglan Mine is one of the region’s largest employers and trainers of Inuit people; they comprise more than 20% of Raglan Mine’s workforce. But we also want to encourage Inuit staff to achieve higher-level roles.

The Rapid Inuit Development and Employment (RIDE) programme, launched in 2013, seeks to help this happen. 

It has two parts: creating career plans for employees; and working with education partners to stimulate interest in mining careers.

The scheme is part of the Tamatumani programme, launched in 2008 to encourage permanent employment. 

Developing a skilled workforce at Raglan Mine

3. Developing career pathways at Australian mines

To encourage indigenous Australians to take up a career in mining, it is vital to put clear career pathways in place. 

At Mount Isa Mines and Ernest Henry Mining in Queensland, Australia, we train and mentor people from indigenous communities – as part of an AUD 1.3 million, award-winning Indigenous Employment Program.

Trainees attend a 12-week introduction to mining, managed by indigenous-run training provider Myuma. From there, trainees are selected to progress to 12 weeks’ experience at a mine with access to a supervisor and mentor. 

Upon completion of the Indigenous Employment Program, trainees may be employed at our operations by Glencore or a locally-based contracting company, or awarded a place in our technical skills development programs including our Apprenticeship Program.

The programme was named the Best Company Indigenous Employment and Training award-winner at the Queensland Resources Council Indigenous Awards 2016.

4. Working with First Nations experts on the environment

The Wahnapitae First Nation (WFN) community has invaluable knowledge of the forested landscape near our Sudbury Integrated Nickel Operations in Ontario, Canada. 

So when it comes to monitoring local water quality, working with WFN experts makes perfect sense.

In 2016, WFN consultants helped us understand the health of the local fish population in Massey Creek, which flows into Wahnapitae Lake.  

The consultants, from the Tahgaiwinini Technical & Environmental Services Group found the population of brook trout had reached 225, up from single figures in 2010.

This collaboration stems from our joint working group on the environment – and has its roots in an agreement signed between Sudbury INO and the WFN in 2008.

Learn more about Massey Creek in this article from Glencore Canada

Massey Creek biodiversity programme, Canada.

5. Sponsoring indigenous sea rangers

However, our support for indigenous people doesn’t only take place on land. In Queensland, Australia, we provided AUD 139,000 sponsorship for the indigenous Gudjuda Rangers – so they could buy a 6.2-metre boat.

The boat will improve turtle research off the north Queensland coast; help with wetland care and management; and be of use to the local community in the event of natural disasters, such as flooding and cyclones. 

The new boat is not only a great asset for the group, but has also been the catalyst for new skills programmes for the Gudjuda Rangers – including coxswain courses and safety training.

To find out how else we engage with the people near our operations, visit our Sustainability pages.