Newmont’s Tanami Operation (NTO) is located on aboriginal freehold land that is owned by the Warlpiri people and managed on their behalf by the Central Desert Aboriginal Lands Trust. The closest communities to the mine are Yuendumu and Lajamanu, approximately 370 km south and 390 km northeast of the mine.
In 2015, NTO initiated a community school visitation program in collaboration with the Yuendumu and Lajamanu schools to promote education and awareness of gold mining and the range of career opportunities available at the mine.
In the two and a half years since the program’s inception, multiple groups of students have participated in these informational field trips and workshops where employee ambassadors lead students through the exploration, mining and processing stages while touring the mine site.
For many of the students, these trips are their first exposure to heavy-duty machinery, open pits and major mining infrastructure. Some of the visiting students have never stepped foot in a grocery store and seeing the cold rooms and kitchens where food is stored and prepared for employees is a valuable learning experience.
In touring the mine, students are exposed to the wide variety of jobs required by the operations – from computer and lab technicians to human resources support.
Due to the remote nature of NTO and the long drive into the site, the students are set up with sleeping bunks in the Cinema at the village, where they are treated to movie screenings before their overnight stay.
Among the visiting student groups are workshop class students, including those who show a keen interest in learning about trades such as automotive repair, mechanical engineering, carpentry and/or electrical foundations. Recognizing this interest, NTO donated $26,000 to the Lajamanu School workshop in 2015 for the purchase of a horizontal bandsaw, spare blades, rollers, a vertical universal turret milling machine, tooling, agronomical equipment for the operator and safe storage for the tooling.
Recently, Lajamanu workshop students donated a sign they had built using these tools as a thank you to the NTO team. The students presented the sign to Tanami management and acting General Manager Paul Ford at a lunch on site.
School attendance officers from the community of Lajamanu have reported improved attendance records as a result of increased engagement and interest from students.
The school visits and workshop programs aim to promote awareness and pique the interest of local youth in the diversity of career opportunities at NTO, encouraging students to complete their studies and pursue training in their desired field.
NTO also uses these visits as an opportunity to share vital health and safety information and educate students on how safety culture can be applied to their own lives. Both community schools are working to embed a safety program in the workshop classes offered to students.
NTO looks forward to continuing its investment in community initiatives that support capacity building for local residents and to pursuing ongoing partnerships with the Yuendumu and Lajamanu schools that foster enhanced learning, health and safety.