A gathering of 330 delegates heard a range of topics covered by the panel, which comprised Mines and Petroleum Minister Bill Johnston, Gold Road Resources (ASX: GOR) Managing Director Ian Murray, Indiana Resources Chair Bronwyn Barnes, Resource Capital Funds Managing Partner James McClements and Pitcher Partners Perth Chairman Bryan Hughes, and was facilitated by Cannings Purple’s Director of Media Strategy, Peter Klinger.
Mr Hughes told the crowd today that it was important that education about the resources sector is done so early on to cater for future jobs in the industry.
“In Western Australia, we’ve been very good at training some of the best explorers and miners out of anywhere in the world,” he said.
“And for that, I think we should be incredibly proud of the WA School of Mines. It’s produced miners that have a really good technological knowledge and understanding of the industry, and that are also market savvy.”
Mr Murray added to Mr Hughes’ comments, saying it was important to keep the conversation around education in the sector, in order to combat the recent drop-off in intake that WASM has seen in recent years since the last mining boom ended.
“We recently received a letter from the principal of a school in Rockingham asking us to come to the school and talk to some year 7’s about what jobs are on offer in the resources sector, and that’s really encouraging to see, and I was blown away by that,” Mr Murray said.
“I wish more schools would reach out and pick up that opportunity for the industry to help educate the next generation about what this sector will be able to offer them.”
Ms Barnes said Australia is experiencing a perception issue around what it’s like to work in the resources industry.
“I think as an industry we haven’t actually collaborated together to deliver consistent messages to the community around what the mining industry looks like,” she said.
“I believe WASM has a role in championing WA as a home of mining excellence internationally… but what we’re missing is that next skilled layer on top that is the “value-add” skill layer, such as those who can do the resource modelling and mine planning in a really sophisticated way.
“I’d like to see us use the expertise we have here in WA and leverage that into countries where we are developing new projects. I think that’s a missed opportunity at the moment.”
Commenting on issues of public trust, Ms Barnes said because the majority of resources companies were listed they concern themselves with pleasing shareholders as a first priority, as the companies themselves are funded by the shareholders.
“So they’re always going to tailor their message to shareholders about the return on funds invested,” she said.
“I think by enlarge as an industry we are very poor at delivering a message, and it probably doesn’t help having multiple industry bodies that represent the industry as a whole… especially when two of them are based in WA.
“But I think moving forward we have a better understanding and we have the capability to work together to deliver a more consistent message to the community, and in particular to young people because that’s where we’re failing.”
Mr Murray said the issue of public trust wasn’t aided by companies failing to promote the good things they were doing in their communities.
“We speak to the market regularly and talk highly of the good things we’ve been doing there, but we rarely take the time to tell the general community what we’ve done,” he said.
“And that’s why it’s important to have these industry bodies which are now taking more action in that sense.”