Case Study

Creating Flexible Opportunities for Indigenous Peoples at Tanami

The Global Center for Indigenous Community Relations focus area of Opportunities for Indigenous Peoples is about identifying programming that builds capacity and addresses systemic barriers so that Indigenous Peoples can participate equitably in the value created by the industry. The Yapa Crew at the Tanami mine in Australia’s Northern Territory is a great example of creating flexible and culturally responsive opportunities that consider the Warlpiri culture and address changes within the industry and beyond. The crew provides labor services that include on-the-job skill development via the provision of general site services, cultural heritage, resource and land management, Traditional Owner support, and grounds and facilities maintenance activities in response to task requests from across the Tanami operation.


In early 2019, the program was reviewed with the participation of Yapa Crew members, resulting in leadership roles being created and a new contract awarded. The crew began a structured skills-development component that included the completion of a number of off-site training blocks. These training blocks enabled crew members to achieve machine operation competencies and to start a Certificate III in Plant Operations, a nationally recognized vocational training qualification. This formal skills development provides a sound vocational foundation and broadens the scope for full-time employment via the Indigenous Training and Familiarization Program as well as other pathways.


COVID-19 brought numerous challenges to the industry and neighboring Indigenous communities. The Yapa Crew had to be demobilized due to operating restrictions and remote Indigenous community interaction risks. Newmont worked to support the Yapa Crew, members’ families and the operational sustainability of the contracted business partner through the Company’s COVID-19 Global Community Support Fund.


Crew members took the demobilization period as an opportunity to further their skills certification. When it was safe to resume work, the Yapa Crew’s contract was reinstated, and members participated in a range of off-site training and work deployments. In Yuendumu, the crew put its machine operation skills into practice and completed important community cleanup, maintenance and demolition work in collaboration with the Central Desert Regional Council.


Crew volunteers also delivered surplus clothing, bedding and health hygiene care packs, also purchased with support from Newmont’s Fund, to Warlpiri households across the communities of Yuendumu, Lajamanu, Nyrripi and Willowra.


Late in 2020, and under extremely hot and challenging early wet season conditions, the Yapa Crew mobilized to remote exploration leases near the Tanami operation to complete important rehabilitation work on a number of historical costean exploration areas. The capacity to complete this work is another important step in the development of the Yapa Crew, and an opportunity for it to put its developing machine operation skills into practice and attend to important mine closure and reclamation activities.


The mining industry offers a host of diverse employment opportunities, and the Yapa Crew’s growth and positive results over the last few years are an excellent example of an entry-level pathway focused on culturally safe Traditional Owner employment. Work done under the focus area of Opportunities for Indigenous Peoples at the Global Center for Indigenous Community Relations will allow Newmont to identify other similar programs and approaches that are built locally and share lessons learned globally.