1 November 2022

Mining delivers jobs boost for local Indigenous people

In his seven years at Whitehaven Coal’s Maules Creek mine, Angus Lamb has progressed from a Trainee Operator to a Step up Supervisor and says the decision to try a career in mining has been life-changing.

Growing up, Angus’ family did mostly seasonal work on cotton farms, grain harvests and cutting broom brush in the nearby Pilliga – an experience he describes as “hard yakka” – and by 2015 he was ready for a change. Joining Whitehaven provided the opportunity and stability he needed, and work is now something he really enjoys.

“The impact Whitehaven has had on me at Maules Creek has been life changing,” said Angus.

“I was living in Narrabri and applying for jobs all over the place but I couldn’t land a single one – I had to work lots of little seasonal jobs. Whitehaven was the first company that gave me a look in and offered me a full-time role.”

“The job I have now has turned my life around and it’s made me a better role model for my kids. I enjoy the people I work with and the culture at Whitehaven – we all get along which makes work easier.”

Since joining Whitehaven, Angus has learnt to operate a range of different machinery, a journey he describes as challenging at times but a good learning curve.

“I’m most proud of all the skills I’ve gained and the gear I’ve been trained to use. After seven years here I’m enjoying being able to share my knowledge with others who are just starting out – hopefully one day I can show my kids how to do it as well.”

Fellow Whitehaven employee, Michael Clark, has enjoyed a similar rise through the ranks since joining Whitehaven’s Werris Creek mine in 2014.

“Like most people, I started out as a truck driver and spent time working in pit services,” Michael said.

“Through application and hard work, I’ve been able to work my way up operating different pieces of equipment and I’m now a Mining Supervisor. I’m also completing further studies, which will open the door for me to sit my Open Cut Examiner ticket in future years.”

Before joining Whitehaven, Michael worked at a school in Werris Creek, and he’s been able to apply skills from that career, to mining.

“I enjoy a lot of the problem-solving aspects of my role and I like to develop people,” Michael added. “Part of what I did in education was upskilling people, so they can learn to problem-solve themselves. It’s great to be able to bring that experience into my role and I’m really enjoying helping the next crop of staff develop their careers.”

This focus on skills and capability development is a central part of Whitehaven’s Indigenous employment strategy, which is one way the company seeks to help empower local communities and contribute to stronger families and futures in North West NSW.

In FY22, 11.8% of the total workforce identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander – and that proportion has been at 9% or more very year since the company first set a workforce diversity target in 2015.

This places Whitehaven among the leading employers in the country according to the Indigenous Employment Index 2022, a survey of over 700,000 employees across 42 of Australia’s largest employers such as Rio Tinto, Woolworths and KPMG. Across organisations surveyed, on average 2.2% of the workforce identified as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander, while the highest was 10.9%.

Whitehaven Managing Director and CEO Paul Flynn said a focus on practical and achievable measures, initially spurred by the construction of our Maules Creek mine, was delivering real benefits for the community and the company.

“We wouldn’t be able to support regional communities, both here in NSW and in our customer countries in the Asian region, without our hardworking people,” said Mr Flynn.

“Back in 2015 we aimed to have a workforce at our Maules Creek mine that reflected our North West NSW community when it comes to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander representation.

“Building on its success, our employment initiative has now extended across the whole business and we’re incredibly proud to see many people benefiting from rewarding local careers.”

Pictured: Mick Clark at our Werris Creek Mine

Back to News

to top