East Kimberley localisation
Over recent years, Argyle has "localised" most of its workforce in the East Kimberley with the aim having 80 percent of its workforce based in the East Kimberley, and an expectation that half of this workforce will be indigenous. Argyle also works closely with its contractors to encourage the same commitment to localisation.
This shift from a Perth-based 'fly-in, fly-out' workforce is one of the most visible aspects of the transition to the East Kimberley that is currently occurring within the organisation. However, it is but one aspect of a larger shift in thinking toward reassessing Argyle's relationship to the area in which it mines. This shift centres on an acknowledgment by Argyle that its mining operations capitalise on a natural asset that cannot be replaced, in an area that is rich in cultural significance to indigenous people. Argyle believes that it has an obligation to put something back into the region, through the creation of new assets that are at least equal in value to those assets it has removed.
The signing in 2004 of an Indigenous Land Use Agreement and Participation Agreement between Argyle and Traditional Owners of the mining lease area was an important step towards the goal of sustainability. It formally established a relationship between the two parties that will help deliver long-term economic benefits to indigenous communities in the East Kimberley, while protecting indigenous cultural and environmental interests throughout the life of the mine.
By the end of the mine's life, Argyle hopes to leave behind a considerably more robust East Kimberley economy that offers a brighter future for all of its residents, especially local indigenous communities.
By shifting its focus to the East Kimberley, Argyle has the opportunity to create local training, employment and contracting opportunities that will offer long-term economic benefits to the region - through the injection of new salary dollars, through the creation of a more skilled local workforce, and through the creation of new and expanded business opportunities for local contractors. It is Argyle's preference to buy its goods and services locally where possible.
Argyle is also providing training to help members of the local community, particularly indigenous people, take better advantage of the work and career opportunities the mine offers. This includes a commitment Argyle made to the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations (DEWR) to create 150 new traineeships and apprenticeships in the East Kimberley by 2008. This target was surpassed with over 200 traineeships and apprenticeships created.
Today Argyle continues to work closely with local indigenous communities to support trainees and apprentices. Argyle's dedicated Work Readiness team continues to have great success in training and retaining indigenous trainees and apprentices because of its focus on strong community relationships.
Programmes such as Argyle's trainee and apprenticeship programme build the skills base in the region, enabling young people to stay and be trained in their own communities, and preventing the historical drain of young talent out of the region.
Argyle has essentially transitioned to an East Kimberley based business and aims to build partnerships with local organisations that will help build social infrastructure in the region.