The final Bowen Basin Mining Club luncheon for 2023 featured a panel discussion between C-suite leaders in the industry, covering topics from royalties to recruitment and responsibility.
The panel included Ian Macfarlane, Chief Executive, Queensland Resources Council, Barry Tudor, Chief Executive Officer, Pembroke Resources, Mark Scott, Chief Executive Officer, Hastings Deering, Mick Crowe, Chief Operating Officer, Bravus Mining & Resources and Jason Economidis, Chief Operating Officer, South32.
With decades of leadership experience between them, the panel tackled some of the toughest topics and hot-button issues facing the industry today; from the threat of a changing regulatory environment, major asset sales and the investment landscape on the back of the Queensland Government’s 2022 royalties regime increase, to decarbonisation opportunities and industrial relations challenges. Perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise that of all of the potential challenges, the unanimous agreement was that the ‘everything shortage’ for talent remained the biggest hurdle for the industry to clear in coming years.
Across the changing nature of employees’ expectations, the crunch for degree-qualified mining engineers and capital city competition for trade-based workers, we asked the panel what the best strategy would be to continue attracting people to the sector.
Mark Scott made mention of Hastings Deering’s significant apprenticeship program, which sees over 2,000 applicants annually for the more than 50 roles on offer. Increasing the intake to ‘grow’ more trade-qualified employees is a priority for the company, as well as attracting university graduates into new fields like data analytics and automation. Partnering with the Queensland Resources Council’s Queensland Minerals and Energy Academy (QMEA) is another key strategy for Hastings Deering to increase school-aged children’s awareness of the diverse career opportunities presented by the mining industry.
The challenges of living regionally were addressed by Mick Crowe and Jason Economidis, who both agreed that more should be done to increase the attractiveness of living regionally, from basic community amenities like healthcare and safety to work and play opportunities for partners and children of resources workers. The less-obvious elements of work-life balance and flexibility for people to spend more time with their families were also a big sticking point.
The panel threw out the challenge to collaborate on the ‘brain drain’ that will draw future talent away, particularly with the 2032 Brisbane Olympics attracting people back to south-east Queensland. Ian Macfarlane put it well, discussing the QRC’s latest information campaign which encourages young people to “be a part of changing the world, get out of the grandstand and onto the field and make a difference”. How? By joining the mining industry.
As an industry, we could all heed that advice: securing the future of mining in Queensland will require every single player, from the C-suite to the workshop floor, to ‘get out of the grandstand’, proactively advocate for the industry, and change the world together.
The BBMC Luncheon Series for 2024 will return in February.
Director, Bowen Basin Mining Club