APY Lands: employment opportunities in the mining industry

First posted on 28 November 2007 under APY Lands & Employment.
This article has been updated and archived.
Tags: mining & training

Summary

In recent years there has been a significant increase in the number of access licences granted to companies looking for mineral and petroleum deposits on the APY Lands.[i] Now, more than ever, it is critically important that governments work with Anangu to make sure they are ready to take up jobs if a major mining project is established on their lands.

In March 2010, 19 people from five APY communities began a pre-employment mining program. By late October 2010, eight of these people had commenced full-time work at the Oz Minerals mine at Prominent Hill.[ii]

The Paper Trail

The Government’s Plan for Accelerating Exploration (PACE)

In April 2004, the State Government launched a five-year Plan for Accelerating Exploration (PACE) across South Australia.[iii] According to the Government, PACE would lead to:

new mineral, oil and gas discoveries and the … generation of wealth and employment opportunities for South Australians, including remote and indigenous communities.[iv]

In promoting PACE, the Government predicted that its four major outcomes would be:

  • improved decision-making around land access,
  • recognition of South Australia “as a world-class centre of excellence” for certain types of exploration,
  • increased exploration expenditure by the mineral and petroleum resources sector, and
  • “the emergence of sustainable communities within indigenous communities, particularly in APY Lands.” [v]

The PACE initiative has eight themes, one of which is “Resource Development and Sustainable Communities.” In explaining this theme, the Government has stated:

Economic development in South Australia’s remote regions is particularly critical for the indigenous communities who speak for that country. This package aims to develop training and employment opportunities.”[vi]

In 2004, the Government listed nine strategies that it would pursue as part of this theme. One strategy was to:

establish training and education on the lands and other regional communities in collaboration with the Department of Employment Training and Further Education, through a Certificate in Vocational Education (Mining Operations) at Spencer TAFE. This will provide meaningful future job prospects for the APY.[vii]

Since the launch of PACE, the State Government had continued to acknowledge the importance of ensuring that Aboriginal people are well-placed to participate in mining ventures on their lands.[viii]

During the 2006 State election campaign, the Premier noted that “Aboriginal people need to be skilled or re-skilled” to enable them to participate in the “pending mining boom.”[ix] At the same time, the Labor Party announced that it would establish a Mineral Resources and Heavy Engineering Skills Centre to, amongst other things, help “Aboriginal people to become job-ready.”[x] The Labor Party indicated that the Centre’s operations would:

complement the suite of training activities that are already an integral part of the PACE scheme, such as certification for the use of machinery by indigenous people in the APY Lands.[xi]

Achievements under PACE

From the start, PACE was enormously popular with exploration companies. Less than six months after it was launched, the Government announced a 50% increase in funding for the project “to manage the huge influx of interest we have been generating around the world.”[xii] At the same time, it awarded $1.75 million in support of 27 exploration proposals, three of which focused on the APY Lands.[xiii]

In September 2004, as part of PACE, Primary Industries and Resources SA (PIRSA) arranged for representatives of the APY Executive Board to travel to the Kimberley region in Western Australia “to learn how they might benefit from mining whilst maintaining their law and culture.”[xiv]

In December 2004, PIRSA reported that PACE was assisting APY in the preparation of a Deed of Exploration template to speed up the processing of licence approvals.[xv] The template was subsequently adopted by APY.[xvi] In June 2005, it was used as the basis for an agreement with PepinNini Minerals.[xvii]

Reviewing PACE’s accomplishment for 2006, the Government reported that it had:

provided ongoing funding to … [APY] to engage legal and anthropological resources for the purpose of facilitating mineral exploration on the APY Lands.[xviii]

The Government further stated:

The ongoing relationship between PIRSA and APY communities, combined with the consistent approach in consultation, has streamlined the process for gaining access for mineral exploration and geological investigation … there is a noticeable increase in community interest and acceptance of PIRSA and exploration company activities.[xix]

On 18 October 2007, the State Minister for Mineral Resources Development (Hon Paul Holloway MLC) noted that in the past six months there had been a “significant increase in the number of land access approvals for both mineral and petroleum exploration licences” in the APY Lands.[xx] The Minister indicated that there were now:

13 active mineral exploration licences in the APY Lands, up from only three … in early 2007, and six petroleum exploration licence applications … up from just four in early 2007.[xxi]

On the same day, the Minister informed Parliament that as part of the PACE initiative, PIRSA would be:

implementing a strategic planning process, working with APY communities and industry to identify opportunities and develop appropriate projects to boost exploration and future mining in the APY Lands.[xxii]

In his speech, the Minister noted that mining on the APY Lands was likely to lead to employment opportunities and that his department had already started to provide Anangu with “skills training in geosciences and exploration.”[xxiii]

On 19 November 2007, PACE won the inaugural Premier’s Award for “growing prosperity.” The award citation stated that PACE’s achievements had included improving “opportunities flowing from future mining in the APY Lands.”[xxiv]

Training and employment for Anangu

When the Government launched PACE in April 2004, it promised to “increase training opportunities” for Anangu.[xxv]

In 2004 and 2005, a number of Anangu students undertook a pilot program in geoscience training as part of their SACE studies.[xxvi] At least one of those students subsequently obtained employment with a PIRSA geological survey team.[xxvii]

Commenting on the importance of the pilot program, PIRSA said:

Companies granted Exploration Licences on APY Lands will now have the opportunity to hire trained indigenous field technicians in their search for minable deposits … PIRSA will continue to support this capacity building education venture with Wiltja and TAFE to improve employment opportunities on the APY Lands. [xxviii]

On 21 December 2007, the Paper Tracker asked the State Department of Further Education, Employment, Science and Technology (DFEEST) for information on the steps TAFE had taken in 2007 to deliver training aimed at increasing the likelihood of Anangu students obtaining ongoing employment within the State’s mineral resources industry.

In a reply dated 29 January 2008, DFEEST stated:

During 2007 … APY TAFE conducted a range of training programs for Anangu students on the APY Lands.

Literacy and Numeracy programs were offered in most communities … to increase employability. Other specialised training was focused on load shifting equipment…

Forty-three Anangu students were trained in units from the Certificate 2 in Metalliferous Mining Operators (open cut). This resulted in all 43 students gaining nationally recognised ‘tickets’ for load shifting equipment (for example grader, bob cat, front end loaders and back hoes).[xxix]

DFEEST also provided the Paper Tracker with information on the geoscience training that has been provided to Anangu students attending the Wiltja program in Adelaide. As of the end of 2007, seven Wiltja students had completed a geoscience module as part of their South Australian Certificate of Education (SACE).[xxx]

On 20 December 2007, the Paper Tracker asked Primary Industries and Resources SA (PIRSA) for information on its efforts to delivery training and employment to Anangu.[xxxi]

In a reply dated 24 August 2009,[xxxii] PIRSA indicated that in the 2006/2007 financial year:

  • 25 community members from Pipalyatjara, Kalka, Nyapari and Kanpi had been “awarded operators certificates” for bobcats and backhoes,
  • “introductory training and familiarisation” had been provided to four Watarru community members “during rehabilitation of abandoned exploration sites” south of that community,
  • three Anangu had been “employed on a short term basis for undertaking rehabilitation works for an exploration company,” and
  • – eight Anangu high school students had completed a “geological and technical training program through Wiltja” (another 12 students undertaken the same course in 2007/2008).[xxxiii]

PIRSA also stated:

At this stage there are no former Wiltja students employed with PIRSA or an exploration company.[xxxiv]

Increased exploration

On 29 October 2009, the State Minister for Mineral Resources Development (Hon Paul Holloway MLC) informed Parliament that his government had “significantly boosted mineral exploration activity” across South Australia and “provided opportunities for indigenous communities to become engaged in economic development in and around the mining sector.”[xxxv]

The Minister highlighted substantial growth in mineral exploration activity on the APY Lands and noted that there were now:

  • 17 approved exploration licences in the APY lands;
  • 6 exploration licence applications with ministerial approval for negotiation with the APY;
  • 12 exploration licence applications under review by Primary Industries and Resources SA (PIRSA); and
  • 6 petroleum exploration licence applications with ministerial approval for negotiation with the APY.[xxxvi]

The Minister commented:

As exploration activity increases across the APY lands, employment opportunities will continue to flow through these communities. The South Australian government will continue to work with the APY communities and industry to identify these opportunities and to develop appropriate projects to boost exploration and future mining in the highly prospective North West of the state.[xxxvii]

Two months earlier, in August 2009, PIRSA had advised the Paper Tracker that funding “to deliver ongoing training and development” to Anangu had “decreased since 2007” and that its commitment to continuing with “appropriate skills development for Anangu” was “subject to funding.”[xxxviii]

Additional information (updated 1 November 2010)

On 2 June 2010, the State Minister for Employment, Training and Further Education (Hon Jack Snelling MP) advised the Paper Tracker that in March 2010, a mining company (Oz Minerals) had “launched a pre employment program” for 19 people from Amata, Iwantja, Kaltjiti, Mimili and Pukatja.[xxxix]

The Minister noted that:

  • the program had been launched “in partnership with the State and Commonwealth governments,”
  • it was “scheduled to end on 8 October 2010”, and
  • participants who met “health and fitness criteria” and who completed two specified TAFE modules would be offered ongoing employment at the Oz Minerals Prominent Hill mine.[xl]

On 13 October 2010, the State Government advised the Paper Tracker that:

  • 12 of the 19 participants in the pre-employment program had gone on to obtain a Certificate 1 in Resources and Infrastructure,
  • 10 of those 12 had also obtained a Certificate II in Metalliferous Mining, and
  • these 10 participants had all received an offer of employment with Oz Minerals.[xli]

On 28 October 2010, Oz Minerals reported that eight of the participants had commenced full-time employment at its Prominent Hill copper-gold mine. The company reported that:

[The] trainee roles that these new graduates have moved into include mine geology pit technician, exploration technician, processing technician, health and safety officer and administration officer.[xlii]

This article was last updated in November 2010. It has been archived and will no longer be updated. It will, however, remain accessible online as a source of background information for anyone wishing to undertake further research on this issue. Information included in the article was current at the time it was archived. Keep in mind, however, that Ministerial changes and names of departments, among other things, may have since changed.


[i] Holloway, P. 18 October 2007, “Significant rise in exploration licenses in APY Lands,” media release.

[ii] Snelling, J. 2 June 2010. Letter to Rev. P. McDonald. Also: Oz Minerals. 28 October 2010. “Growing Indigenous Workforce at Prominent Hill,” media release. Available at: http://www.ozminerals.com/Investor-Information/Growing-Indigenous-Workforce-at-Prominent-Hill.html?category=home. Accessed 1 November 2010. Also: Christaki, C (DFEEST). 13 October 2010. Email to J. Nicholls

[iii] PIRSA. April 2004, “Unlocking South Australia’s mineral and energy potential – a Plan for Accelerating Exploration,” MESA Journal, Issue 33, p4.

[iv] PIRSA. April 2004, “Unlocking South Australia’s mineral and energy potential – a Plan for Accelerating Exploration,” MESA Journal, Issue 33, p5.

[v] PIRSA. April 2004, “Unlocking South Australia’s mineral and energy potential – a Plan for Accelerating Exploration,” MESA Journal, Issue 33, p6.

[vi] PIRSA. April 2004, “Unlocking South Australia’s mineral and energy potential – a Plan for Accelerating Exploration,” MESA Journal, Issue 33, p7.

[vii] PIRSA. April 2004, “Unlocking South Australia’s mineral and energy potential – a Plan for Accelerating Exploration,” MESA Journal, Issue 33, p8.

[viii] For example, in its Annual Report for 2004/05, the Department of Primary Industry and Resources SA reported that it had – with other agencies and industry partners – developed “a traineeship course specifically for Indigenous Australian youth” that would allow “participants from remote parts of SA … to gain training in Drilling, Spatial Information Systems and Land and Environmental Management so as to gain employment in mineral and petroleum resources development projects on their lands” (PIRSA, 2005, “Statement of Aboriginal Reconciliation,” PIRSA Annual Report 2004-05, p76).

[ix] Rann. M. 2006, Foreword, “Mining Policy” Australian Labor Party SA Branch, p2.

[x] Australian Labor Party SA Branch, 2006, “Mining Policy,” p6-7.

[xi] Australian Labor Party SA Branch, 2006, “Mining Policy,” p7.

[xii] This announcement saw funding for PACE increase from $15 million to $22.5 million (Rann. M. 20 September 2004, “Experts and more money boosts our mining prospects,” media release).

[xiii] Holloway, P. 22 September 2004, “27 Exploration Projects Win Funds,” media release.

[xiv] PIRSA, 19 October 2005, “PACE: setting,” e-newsletter, volume 16.

[xv] PIRSA, 6 December 2004, “PACE: setting,” e-newsletter, volume 2.

[xvi] PIRSA, January 2006, “Minerals and Petroleum South Australia: 2005 in review,” MESA Journal,  40, p9.

[xvii] Heithersay, P. July 2005, “A message from the Executive Director,” MESA Journal, 38, p2.

[xviii] PIRSA, January 2007, “PACE,” MESA Journal, 44, p14

[xix] PIRSA, January 2007, “PACE,” MESA Journal, 44, p14

[xx] Holloway, P. 18 October 2007, “Significant rise in exploration licenses in APY Lands,” media release.

[xxi] Holloway, P. 18 October 2007, “Significant rise in exploration licenses in APY Lands,” media release.

[xxii] Holloway, P. 18 October 2007, “APY Lands, Mineral and Petroleum Exploration,” Hansard, Legislative Council, Parliament of South Australia.

[xxiii] Holloway, P. 18 October 2007, “APY Lands, Mineral and Petroleum Exploration,” Hansard, Legislative Council, Parliament of South Australia.

[xxiv] Government of South Australia, November 2007, 2007 Premier’s Awards: showcasing excellence in the pubic sector, p9.

[xxv] PIRSA. April 2004, “Unlocking South Australia’s mineral and energy potential – a Plan for Accelerating Exploration,” MESA Journal, Issue 33, p6.

[xxvi] PIRSA, October 2005, “Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara geoscience trainees – Wiltja Class of 2005,” MESA Journal, 39, p26

[xxvii] PIRSA, October 2005, “Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara geoscience trainees – Wiltja Class of 2005,” MESA Journal, 39, p26

[xxviii] PIRSA, 2005, “New program gives indigenous students a big outlook,” Primetime, Summer edition, p20.

[xxix] Cunningham, B. 29 January 2008, Letter to Rev P McDonald.

[xxx] Cunningham, B. 29 January 2008, Letter to Rev P McDonald.

[xxxi] McDonald, P. 20 December 2007. Letter to G. Knight (PIRSA).

[xxxii] On 23 July 2009 – more than 19 months after the Paper Tracker submitted its written request – a PIRSA officer contacted us by telephone to confirm that we were still keen to receive a response. A month later, PIRSA’s formal reply arrived.

[xxxiii] Knight, G (PIRSA). 24 August 2009. Letter to Rev. P. McDonald.

[xxxiv] Knight, G (PIRSA). 24 August 2009. Letter to Rev. P. McDonald.

[xxxv] Holloway, P. 29 October 2009. “Mineral Exploration, Indigenous Communities,” Hansard, Legislative Council, Parliament of South Australia, p3825.

[xxxvi] Holloway, P. 29 October 2009. “Mineral Exploration, Indigenous Communities,” Hansard, Legislative Council, Parliament of South Australia, p3825.

[xxxvii] Holloway, P. 29 October 2009. “Mineral Exploration, Indigenous Communities,” Hansard, Legislative Council, Parliament of South Australia, p3825.

[xxxviii] Knight, G (PIRSA). 24 August 2009. Letter to Rev. P. McDonald.

[xxxix] Snelling, J. 2 June 2010. Letter to Rev. P. McDonald.

[xl] Snelling, J. 2 June 2010. Letter to Rev. P. McDonald.

[xli] Christaki, C (DFEEST). 13 October 2010. Email to J. Nicholls

[xlii] Oz Minerals. 28 October 2010. “Growing Indigenous Workforce at Prominent Hill,” media release. Available at: http://www.ozminerals.com/Investor-Information/Growing-Indigenous-Workforce-at-Prominent-Hill.html?category=home. Accessed 1 November 2010.

The Paper Tracker works hard to provide accurate and up-to-date information. We will correct any inaccurate information as soon as it is brought to our attention. Please contact us if you have additional information or can provide us with an update.