Digging deep

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trades that support the industry. Mike Henry. President of Operations,. Minerals Australia, BHP. → Canadian-born Henry has been with BHP since 2003 and took.



Digging deep From zero emissions and zero injuries to cutting-edge tech and the next big boom, four leaders in the resources industry share their views on the state of the sector with Jane Nicholls. →




“The industry has come a very long way from the old-school culture but there’s more to go and part of that is becoming more inclusive and diverse.”

Mike Henry President of Operations, Minerals Australia, BHP

→ Canadian-born Henry has been with BHP since 2003 and took on his current role – heading up mining operations across Australia – in February 2016. Many consider him Andrew Mackenzie’s most likely successor as BHP’s global CEO.

Australia operates in a global marketplace and everyone wants to eat our lunch. A lot of countries out there want a bit of this magic that Australia’s been able to create and some of them have natural advantages in terms of resources or lower cost of inputs. Our competitive advantage is under pressure – being complacent in the face of that competition is a threat to us. To outcompete these other jurisdictions, we need to be incredibly productive. We need to have the right policy settings in place that support investment and productivity and we need to be bringing great people into the industry. It’s a joint effort on the part of industry and government to promote education and training, not just in STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] but also in the trades that support the industry. 94


Elizabeth Gaines CEO, Fortescue Metals Group

→ On the board of FMG since 2013, Gaines spent 12 months as CFO before becoming CEO in February 2018. More than a year on, she sees the company’s combination of entrepreneurship and discipline as key to its success.

Safety is always on my mind. And that’s both dealing with the safety incidents we have – the call in the middle of the night telling me one of our colleagues has been injured or killed – and being absolutely confident that it simply doesn’t need to happen in this industry. It’s not a pipedream: I’m confident that zero serious injuries and fatalities is achievable. But it requires a combination of the right culture, the right focus and the right enablement of frontline employees to avoid the risks. The need to discover new resources is under-understood in Australia. We have significant iron-ore and coal resources but the industry needs to focus on constantly refilling its hopper of new projects – things like copper and nickel. We’ve recently had a discovery in South Australia that’s related to copper and there’s a belief in the industry that more opportunities are out there. A lot aren’t readily identifiable from the surface so they can be much harder to find. It requires more skill, application of better technology and a collective effort by industry and government to invest in building that capability. We haven’t done a great job of conveying that this is a great industry. We’ve come a very long way from the old-school culture that some people still mistakenly attribute to the industry but there’s more to go and part of that is becoming more inclusive and diverse. We’ve made great progress on flexible work – we all gravitate to young people valuing that but some of the most positive feedback we’ve had has been from people who are mid-career or even late in their careers. Mental health is a big issue for us. I’m passionate about this. The way we couch it internally is that mental wellness is every bit as important as physical safety and health. We’re raising awareness, destigmatising mental-health issues and building capability among the workforce to spot when people are in a rough patch and building the right culture of peer support. A subset of our workforce is FIFO [fly-in fly-out] and for them it’s things like ensuring good wi-fi connectivity in our camps, actively promoting flexible work and ensuring the camp has quality food, exercise facilities and social activities. On bigger FIFO sites, we fly families up once in a while so they can build a familial connection to the site – that can have a big impact.

Innovation is a significant opportunity for the resources sector. At Fortescue, we’re continuing to build our capabilities through our automation program and the use of artificial intelligence. We’re on track to become the first iron-ore operation globally to be fully autonomous for our haulage requirements within a year. Fortescue trucks have already travelled more than 26 million kilometres autonomously. Safety is our No. 1 focus and it remains challenging for us. Our safety performance is still not where we want it to be. We want to ensure everyone stays focused and in control, always looking out for their mates – that’s part of our culture. Numbers are one indicator but it really is about zero harm. Our safety performance has improved substantially and the incidents we see now are generally very low severity; slips and cuts and strains. But we want to become a global leader and we’re not there yet. We work to ensure communities benefit from our success. We’re developing the Eliwana mine and rail project, a $1.7 billion investment in the Pilbara that’s going to create jobs and further opportunities for regional development in Western Australia. Our business has 13 per cent Aboriginal employment; part of this project and our ongoing operation is to provide jobs, education, training and opportunities for Aboriginal people and businesses. We are very proud of the success Fortescue has had in closing that gap and ending disparity – we’ve been at it for 15 years.

“Safety is our No. 1 focus. Our safety performance is still not where we want it to be. It really is about zero harm.”

a year on exploration – just over half of that on iron ore and our existing tenements – but we’re interested in other commodities as well. We’ve been drilling in the Pilbara for lithium and on an area of land in NSW that’s prospective for copper and gold. We have activities in South America, concessions in Ecuador that are prospective for copper and also in Argentina. And we have signed a very exciting partnership with CSIRO around some hydrogen technology that they’ve developed, which could provide a new market for us involving the potential bulk export of ammonia for hydrogen. Energy has to be on everyone’s radar. We are a big user of fuel and diesel in our business and we want to find ways to use more renewables – hydrogen being part of that. Data analytics is also a massive opportunity for us, including for safety, because not only can it tell us what’s happened historically, it can also start to predict what might happen. Predictive use of data analytics will be a real game changer.

We are much broader than an iron-ore company. We’re a management company, an exploration company and an infrastructure company. We spend about $100 million qantas.com/travelinsider



“We need to be part of the [climate] solution. We have the technology, people and competencies to contribute in a more positive way.”

As the world transitions to a lower carbon footprint, the resources sector in Australia has an opportunity to lead. We have to work out how to become carbon neutral in our businesses between now and 2050. We need to start getting in front of the [climate] debate. We’ve been seen as dinosaurs in defending a position. Well, if it’s an indefensible position then it only has one outcome: you’ll be isolated and eventually won’t exist as an entity. So we need to be part of the solution. We have the technology, people and competencies to contribute [to climate action] and need to do it in a more positive way.

Peter Coleman CEO and managing director, Woodside

→ The former long-time ExxonMobil executive joined Woodside in 2011. Last year, he made headlines when he called on mining companies to get serious about climate action and the transition to a lowercarbon economy.

Our technology is at the forefront of what you’d expect from companies like Amazon and Google. If Woodside were to split out what it’s doing today in data analytics, artificial intelligence, robotics and so forth, that would be a significant company in its own right. It surprises people who think a resources company simply gets things out of the ground and sends them off to market. But the amount of technology behind that is enormous. I see a world in the not-too-distant future where some of our technology, particularly around health and safety, is used by other industries. Woodside is looking at what else is coming over the horizon. For us that’s hydrogen. Our view is that hydrogen will be a significant fuel by 2050 and will probably become commercial by around 2030. The energy input required to make hydrogen – sunlight – is abundant in the Pilbara region. So we can get cheap energy up there to start to create hydrogen and get it to market. It’s very new but has a lot of potential. When you’re a CEO, there aren’t that many people you can turn to for advice so you often have to draw deep from your own experiences. My view is that to be successful you have to be very reflective, have a broad set of experiences that you can draw from and also observe others. Over time you’ll develop professional relationships with people who you can phone or have a cup of coffee with – or tea for me these days – and chew over an idea, without getting too specific. At the end of the day, we have a best mate somewhere or a significant other we go home to and we need to be able to download some of the stresses we’ve been carrying. Those people are equally as important with respect to being able to clear the mind and understand whether we’re on the right track – or not – in our thought processes.




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Tania Constable CEO, Minerals Council of Australia → The first female CEO of the Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) – she was appointed last July – Constable came to the role with a stated aim to take a “technology neutral” approach to climate and energy policy, a distinct shift from the controversial pro-coal agenda promoted by her predecessor. Instead, she focuses on whatever technologies and resources will best provide for the nation’s energy needs.

Overregulation is becoming a contagion in Australia. The danger is that we’re going backwards because of a misguided view that the answer to poor regulation is more regulation. Environmental approvals are taking years, with delays in project approval processes caused by unnecessary and complex duplicative processes. That’s not sustainable in the long term for our competitiveness as an industry or as a country. We want to introduce a risk-based approach to the assessment and approval processes for resources projects. You have to prove how you’re going to contribute environmentally, socially and economically to a region and overall then it’s a cost-benefit analysis.

Our proximity to Asia has enormous potential for our nation. Asia’s growth in high-paying, high-skill jobs is a great opportunity for Australia’s world-class minerals sector. Asia already has about 60 per cent of the world’s population at around four billion people and that’s expected to grow by about another half a billion by 2030. Global demand for all mineral commodities is likely to increase to support urbanisation, electrification and growth in the highly populated Asian countries, particularly China, India and South-East Asia – that’s going to create robust demand for Australian minerals. There’s so much more to mining than Australians realise. Our industry supports essential infrastructure and we build more sustainable regional communities. It funds real local jobs on the ground: nurses, teachers, police. And there are so many people in cities working either directly or indirectly with the resources sector – law firms, banks, energy companies. More than 6500 Indigenous Australians are directly employed in mining and that’s more than any other sector in the economy. Not enough is known about mining, particularly among youth, and we are focused on telling our story better.


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The Minerals Council is focused on sustainability. We regard the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as critical for the way every business operates. We’re working with the Mining Association of Canada to understand how we might implement its sustainable mining protocols in Australia. And I’m inspired by groups such as the Breakthrough Energy Coalition, which aims to deliver affordable, reliable energy with near-zero or zero emissions.

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