No one is going to tell your story for you

Cannings Purple 2 Aug 2018
3 mins

The mining sector needs to tell its story better. In the face of declining corporate trust, a potential skills shortage, and increasingly-advanced and organised activism against the broader mining industry, now is the time to tell stakeholders, communities, government and the public about the positive social and economic contributions the sector makes to Australian life.

These are three areas the industry should focus on to improve how it is perceived, and help guarantee its social license to operate over the coming years and decades.

1) Education:
If we are to attract new talent to the sector, we need to ensure WA youngsters understand the history, importance and impact of mining.

This is a real and pressing issue – there has been a substantial decline in mining-related university enrolments (in some cases down 80% over the last 5 years), despite growing iron ore prices, a strong gold market, opportunities in automation and robotics, and a once-in-a-generation opportunity regarding lithium.

As mining evolves, lime collar workers (white collar workers with an interest in the environment and socially-conscious companies and cultures) are as likely to be lured to technology companies where similar skills are in demand.

Industry events and conferences could be doing more to include school children in their scheduling and format; nevermind bring your kids to work days – take the school kids to industry conferences and expose them to the excitement and innovation of these events.

How many metro school children have visited a mine site? There’s opportunity for partnerships within the travel and tourism industry to bring these places to life for our kids. Did you know that grade five and six children at a primary school were preparing to hold an anti-Adani protest? The gold sector (for example) has one of the best stories to tell about environmental responsibility and social contributions to our life in WA – we need to tell our children those stories.

2) Employee Advocacy:
Key to telling our story better is our employees. Leveraging the pride and satisfaction that they too are contributing positively to our state, our economy, our culture and our communities could shift perception,

As a sector, mining has not done a good job of telling its story. It is loud about its earning and its exports, but too quiet about its investment, jobs growth, social responsibility and community support. With Diggers and Dealers taking place this week in WA, gold is a good sector to focus on here as a case study. The people best placed to amplify positive messages about the gold industry are the 55,000 people whose employment and income relies on it.

If every one of those people shared just one positive piece of gold-related news this year, those articles would be seen up to 37 million times. If we do that every day, across every company and every employee, there’s the opportunity to really set the nation’s understanding of the positive impacts of the industry.

So share your story. Encourage your staff to. Source the right tools to help them. And reward them for their efforts.

3) Acting as One:

As an industry, mining needs to come together. We need to see the sector positively profiled in the news and on social channels, hear about its positive impact on the radio, and be talking about it over coffee.

Social investment and impact investing can come through the mining sector and our miners deliver billions of dollars in support to the communities in which they operate. The multiplier effect of one mining worker generating four workers elsewhere in the economy is a conservative estimate – but how many people understand the impact that has

Cannings Purple is a proud member and supporter of the Gold Industry Group which has done a good job of beginning the work in the gold sector – but the whole industry needs to contribute. Together we are stronger – and now is the time to come together and act.

Warrick Hazeldine is a founding Director of Cannings Purple and an expert Board-level adviser in the areas of investor relations, M&A, crisis and reputation management, with significant experience in the mining and resources sectorContact Warrick.