Despite extreme weather threatening to delay flights and disrupt plans, Kalgoorlie recently successfully hosted the 31st annual Diggers and Dealers event – touted as one of the country’s most popular and anticipated mining industry forums.
With Australia’s borders now open, this year’s packed three-day packed program attracted a record turnout. From Monday August 1st to Wednesday 3rd, over 2,600 local, interstate and international delegates descended on the town for 70 corporate presentations, close to 160 exhibitions, and an array of networking, media and investor events.
Ivan Zuvela, a Partner for Gerard Daniels in Perth, attended for his seventh consecutive time, while Daryna Chorna, a Partner in the London practice, made her first trip down. Here they share some industry insights and observations, following Diggers and Dealers 2022.
Positive outlook remains, despite challenges
Much like the global economy, the mining sector faces some unique challenges in 2022. However, according to Ivan the level of optimism remains strong, and this sentiment was reflected in many of the presentations and the conversations that he had with delegates at this year’s event.
“The mood at Diggers and Dealers 2022 was again quite buoyant, and the number of people that were able to get along to Kalgoorlie this year certainly added to that atmosphere,” Ivan reflects. “But while there is a sense of optimism, from a market perspective it was also clear that global economic uncertainty has, and will continue, to create some challenging conditions for explorers and producers.”
Finding momentum around ESG
As in previous years, ESG was a common theme and talking point throughout Diggers and Dealers 2022.
“The narrative has moved on considerably since last year, and while some companies are focused on ESG as part of their operations, others are now progressing through their own green energy transition,” says Ivan. “We also heard from some top tier producers that are pushing boundaries on emissions and looking to fast-track reductions to achieve real change by 2030, and it was interesting to hear about the initiatives that are underway to deliver on these ambitious targets.”
Moving the dial on diversity, equity and inclusion
With the report from the parliamentary inquiry into FIFO sexual harassment only recently handed down, it is little surprise that diversity, equity and inclusion was another hot topic at this year’s event. And like ESG, diversity, equity and inclusion featured in almost all of the presentations that Daryna attended.
“Many companies were looking to provide positive examples of female workforce participation and demonstrate how they are driving sustainable and meaningful change. And while moving the dial may still take some time, there is an appetite for change,” she says. “But despite the focus on diversity and inclusion, interestingly just five out of the 71 invited speakers and one in five delegates were female, so while there may be some momentum, there’s still much work to be done.”
Other event observations around moving safety and inclusivity forward, include the need for:
- Mining sector leaders to acknowledge and embrace the opportunity to make the industry better
- Mining leaders to be more observant in terms of physical and psychological safety
- Different pathways to be made available for making complaints
- Sharing best practice, especially from larger organisations with more resources available
- And for bystanders to lift standards and hold others to account by reporting incidents too. Having the backing of colleagues in difficult situations also provides victims with the courage to speak up.
Daryna acknowledges that meeting the challenges of diversity and accessibility is another challenge for the future of the event itself.
“Accommodating the number of people that attend Diggers and Dealers each year is a longstanding issue, and while it is not feasible to build new accommodation for one event, there is a need for some innovative solutions to ensure diversity of attendance and accessibility for those who are not attending as part of the larger companies that book accommodation years in advance,” says Daryna “Addressing this would give the event ownership of the concept of role modeling the issue, rather than just being a forum for discussing it.”
“Because of the momentum around the green energy transition in mining, and the growth that we are seeing in ESG, the type of talent that is needed and that wants to work in mining is also changing,” Ivan explains. “Naturally there is growing demand for skills and experience at all levels to support this shift, and mining organisations are also increasingly aware of the importance of their own company values in attracting future talent, and shaping company culture.”
“In terms of new leadership opportunities, senior functions like ESG Vice President (VP) and Sustainability VP are starting to get a seat at the executive table, reporting directly into the CEO,” Ivan continues. “As these roles gain visibility and traction, they can have more influence and sway within their organisation, which will fuel further growth and talent demand in these areas.”
Broadly speaking, similarly to construction and other sectors there continues to be considerable labour shortages in mining across all functions, and at all levels. “It’s just hard to attract good people, and as demand grows and money begins to talk, it will prove much harder to keep good people too,” he says.
Connect with Ivan or Daryna to discuss your specialist mining recruitment needs, or reach out to your local Gerard Daniels team.