Iron ore majors step up security in Western Australia sexual harassment investigation

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A worker checks a truck loaded with iron ore at Fortescue Metals Group (FMG) Christmas Creek iron ore mine south of Port Hedland in the Pilbara region of Western Australia, November 17, 2015. REUTERS / Jim Regan

MELBOURNE, Oct.29 (Reuters) – Australia’s leading iron ore companies say they are tightening security measures at remote mining sites and improving training in an attempt to change an industry culture that has seen high rates sexual assault.

The measures will also include reducing excessive alcohol consumption upon entering and leaving “FIFO” camps, mining officials said in a Western Australian state investigation.

Sexual harassment is rife in mining camps across the state, which supplies more than half of the world’s iron ore supply, submissions to the government inquiry showed in August. Read more

The investigation, which will report its findings next year, was launched after high-profile cases of sexual assault by minors were reported.

Women make up about one in five workers in the camps, and critics have said recreation facilities have become hubs for alcohol consumption and created poor camp cultures that minors need to grapple with.

Companies are improving lighting in camps, adding security measures such as personnel, CCTV and new locks, as well as revamping training to focus on compliance and reducing access to alcohol, executives from Fortsecue Metals Group (FMG.AX) and Rio Tinto (RIO .AX) said this week, adding to comments from BHP Group (BHP.AX) earlier this month.

Fortescue CEO Elisabeth Gaines told the survey this week that in addition to improving physical security arrangements in her camps, she was reviewing training on culture, behavior and leadership in the workplace. job.

It will also limit the purchase of alcohol at all of its locations to four average drinks over a 24-hour period, similar to the measures introduced by BHP and Rio Tinto this year.

Rio iron ore boss Simon Trott told the survey he has launched a leadership program to improve inclusion in his culture and is strengthening prevention strategies, including spectator training and encouraging people to report unacceptable behavior.

“We are committed to changing the culture of our organization to make it safe and respect the lived reality for our people,” he said.

The mining companies jointly said they would implement education programs in state schools and training centers aimed at preventing sexual harassment, racism and bullying. Read more

BHP iron ore boss Brandon Craig said earlier this month it is investing A $ 300 million to improve the safety and security of its facilities. BHP laid off 48 workers in two years over incidents of sexual harassment, it said in its communication. Read more

Owen Whittle, spokesperson for UnionWA, which represents 30 worker groups, said unions welcome commitments to improve facilities and safety. He wants these changes to be adopted by contractors who employ much of the workforce in remote mines.

“While there have been some preliminary announcements, we have yet to see a real change in the culture and it doesn’t happen overnight, it’s a long-term commitment,” Whittle told Reuters.

Reporting by Melanie Burton; Editing by Angus MacSwan

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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