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(WEST AUSTRALIA) LATEST: BHP, Rio Tinto, Fortescue Metals Group (FMG), Woodside and Newmontcompany executives have held an unprecedented media conference to apologise to those who have been sexually assaulted or harassed on the state’s mine sites #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – June.27: And the WA Premier said the government would support an inquiry into the safety of female workers.

WA: Mining executives apologise to mine site sexual assault victims after company BHP, Rio Tinto, Fortescue Metals Group (FMG), Woodside and Newmont said they had a “zero tolerance policy” on assault and harassment and were committed to ensuring their workplaces were safe for female employees.

updated Yesterday at 11:03am

Autonomous Haulage Trucks at West Angelas mine site
The Chamber of Minerals and Energy says the most most significiant issue on mine sites is ensuring they are safe for female employees.(Supplied: Rio Tinto/Christian Sprogoe Photography)

It comes after two BHP workers were charged with sexual penetration over separate incidents, and FMG revealed it was assisting police investigating an incident of alleged indecent assault.

Chamber of Minerals and Energy (CME) chief executive Paul Everingham said it was the most significant issue on mine sites.

“I just wanted to put on the record on behalf of the resources industry in Western Australia our very strong stance opposing any and all forms of workplace rape, assault or harassment at any time,” he said.

“We have a zero-tolerance policy in the resources sector.

“Health and safety has for a long time been our most important tool on all of our sites and this includes personal safety, and safe and responsible behaviours.

A Rio Tinto iron ore train, stretching for up to 3 kilometres, passes through a level crossing.
Women make up about 22 per cent of Australia’s mining workforce.(ABC News: Rachel Pupazzoni)

“I’d also like to express my apologies on behalf of the sector for people who’ve been impacted by sexual assault, harassment and or rape.

“And also I would like to apologise if anyone has felt they haven’t been able to come forward to put on record instances or allegations.”

Sector must  be ‘completely inclusive’

A recently established Safe and Respectful Behaviours Working Group will focus on a code of conduct for employees of the chamber’s member companies, behaviour at external events, after hours on site, and social media activities. 

The role of alcohol use at work sites will also be considered. 

FMG director of people Linda O’Farrell said her company’s most important values were family and safety.

“Any kind of harassment, any kind of victimisation is completely at odds with those values,” she said.

“[It] has no place in our company, in our sector, in our society.

Iron ore reclaimer at Rio Tinto's Cape Lambert facility, WA
WA Premier Mark McGowan has supported calls for an inquiry.(Supplied: Rio Tinto)

“We welcome this opportunity to collaborate together as an industry.”

She said the task was not over until the sector was “completely” inclusive and everyone felt safe.

BHP head of WA iron ore Brandon Craig said it was “critical” to take positive steps to prevent incidents of sexual assault.

“We’re going to work incredibly hard over these coming months and into the future at making sure that this type of issue is eradicated from our industry and our workplace,” he said.

The views were echoed by Woodside executive vice-president Fiona Hick, Newmont regional chief financial officer Felicity Hughes, Rio Tinto’s iron ore chief executive Simon Trott, and BHP general manager integrated production Jessica Farrell. 

Premier supports inquiry

Women make up about 22 per cent of Australia’s mining workforce.

Mr Everingham said he did not have data on whether harassment and ill treatment of women was more prevalent in mining than in other industries.

“To me, in a way, it’s irrelevant,” he said.

“It’s happening in our industry and we’re doing something about it.” 

The CME and mining company representatives said they would co-operate with any parliamentary inquiry into the safety of women on sites.

WA Premier Mark McGowan said the government would support an inquiry.

“It’s not to examine individual cases. That’s a matter for the police,” Mr McGowan said.

“It’s to examine the overall issue and how we make the environment — bear in mind it’s a long way from home and [there is] a large number of people gathering — as safe as possible for everyone involved.”

#AceNewsDesk report …….Published: Jun.26: 2021:

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