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News News More indigenous workers in mining
THE mining industry has boosted its indigenous workforce to 8 per cent, with some companies planning to increase numbers further over coming years, a new report shows. Twelve mining sites were visited during the Minerals Industry Indigenous Employment Research Project and 113 interviews were conducted.

The report, released today, found mining companies had been providing more employment opportunities than previously offered.

It says key factors driving companies to employ indigenous Australians include changes in social and demographic circumstances in regions where mining occurs in Australia, predicted indigenous population growth and skills shortages.

The study also found the increased employment opportunities had the potential to deliver better socioeconomic outcomes for indigenous communities.

Vocational and Further Education Minister Andrew Robb said the time was right for more indigenous employment in the mining sector.

"We've got a growing population of young indigenous in so many of those areas, enormous mining opportunities that have grown off the back of China and India, and we've got related skill shortages," Mr Robb said at the launch of the report in Canberra.

The study found indigenous Australians made up 8 per cent of the mining workforce in 2006.

The 2001 national census identified only 1.9 per cent of the mining workforce was made up of indigenous Australians, compared to the 2002 ABARE study which found 4.6 per cent participation.

The estimates are not comparable because all three studies were undertaken in slightly different areas of Australia involving different organisations.

Mining giant Rio Tinto is one of a number of mining companies planning to lift indigenous participation over the next few years.

The company said it hoped to boost the number of indigenous employees at its Argyle Diamonds site in Western Australia from 25 per cent to 40 per cent.

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