|The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) and the Commonwealth was launched on 1 June 2005. |
The purpose of the major, five-year agreement 'is to formalise a partnership between the Commonwealth of Australia ... and the Minerals Council of Australia to work together with Indigenous people to build sustainable, prosperous communities in which individuals can create and take up social, employment and business opportunities in mining regions' (MOU 2005). More specifically, it aims to increase Indigenous employment and enterprise development in the mining sector, particularly in areas where MCA companies are operating (HREOC 2006).
The four broad principles established by the MOU to guide regional activity are as follows (MOU 2005):
'1. Collaboration and partnership between the parties based on mutual respect.
2. Collaboration and partnership between the parties and Indigenous communities based on shared responsibilities and respect for culture, customs and values.
3. The integration of sustainable development considerations within the MOU partnership decision-making process.
4. Joint commitment to social, economic and institutional development of the communities with which the parties engage.'
Activities are aimed at issues of training, employment and enterprise development (MCA 2005). These are to be formed through work between mining companies, Indigenous communities and government. The minerals sector is to cooperate across its companies in participating in the projects.
The MCA hopes that the MOU will enhance Indigenous access to services including those of education, work readiness, drug and alcohol support, family support, enterprise development and finance (MCA 2006).
Implementation of the project is to be overseen by a National Steering Committee made up of the Office of Indigenous Policy Coordination (OIPC), the Department of Industry, Tourism and Resources (DITR), the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations (DEWR), the MCA Secretariat and MCA member companies (Newmont, BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Roche).
The first two years of the project involve a 'pilot phase' to establish model arrangements that can then be replicated elsewhere. The eight pilot sites and the mining companies involved are as follows (MCA 2006):
- Western Cape York, Queensland (involving Comalco Aluminium)
- Tanami, Northern Territory (involving Newmont)
- East Kimberley, Western Australia (involving Argyle Diamond Mine and Roche)
- Port Hedland, Western Australia (involving BHP Billiton)
- Newman, Western Australia (involving BHP Billiton and Newcrest Mining)
- Karratha and Roebourne, Western Australia (involving Pilbara Iron)
- South West Perth - Boddington, Western Australia (involving Newmont)
- Wiluna, Western Australia (involving Newmont).
Seven pilot sites were established between June and December 2005 (Regional Partnerships Newsletter 2006).
From June 2005 to June 2006 implementation focussed upon (Deleflie 2006):
'- the engagement of local and/or regional stakeholders, including State Governments;
- clarification of Commonwealth agency arrangements to deliver the MOU, for example, in implementing a "whole of Government" approach;
- development of the regional partnership model; and
- clarification of the parameters of the project, for example, the participation of non-MCA member companies such as Woodside in the Pilbara.'
Regional Partnerships Agreements (RPAs) are to be developed as part of the MOU between industry, all government levels and Indigenous communities so that there is an alignment between parties before considering project details (MCA 2006). Two RPAs had been drafted by March 2006 (Regional Partnerships Newsletter 2006). As of late May 2006, none of these had been finalised, though the Port Hedland RPA was closest to being signed and others were being considered (Deleflie 2006).
From June 2006 to June 2007 the project is planned to involve (Deleflie 2006):
'- the ongoing implementation of the MOU, the finalisation of RPAs and the development of specific projects;
- the development of an evaluation and reporting framework at the national and regional level;
- ensuring the effective communication of successes and learnings across Government, the minerals industry and within Indigenous communities;
- developing a forum to facilitate the exchange of views and experiences across pilot sites by Indigenous community leaders engaged in the MOU; and
- developing a strategy to effectively replicate the new working arrangements to other mine sites beyond the pilot phase.'
A review of the project is scheduled for early 2007 (MOU 2005).