In 2003, when Barrick owned the Cowal mine*, they reached a Native Title Agreement with the Wiradjuri Condobolin Native Title Claim Group and was issued a mining lease to develop the Cowal mine. As part of this agreement, Barrick provided support to the Claim Group in a range of areas, including facilitating the establishment of the Wiradjuri Condobolin Corporation (WCC) and the Education, Training and Business Development Committee (ETBDC).
The ETBDC meetings were used as a platform for discussing indigenous employment, and training and education initiatives that existed within or outside the agreement. One example was Barrick’s funding of trade and vocational qualifications for the Wiradjuri people as part of the agreement with the WCC. Barrick had found that traineeships were much more effective than apprenticeships, and the company had struggled in the past to fill the quota of one new apprenticeship per year. After discussing this in an ETBDC meeting, Barrick asked the group to consider changing the obligation to funding traineeships instead, as these are only vocational work and training, which was more suited to both the company’s and the Wiradjuri’s needs.
The WCC agreed, and Barrick helped a number of Wiradjuri youth attain accredited certifications in a range of disciplines, including warehousing, environmental management and business administration. Instead of insisting that the exact words of the agreement be delivered, Barrick and the Wiradjuri discussed joint challenges and opportunities in the program, and the ETBDC provided the forum to discuss these issues and negotiate better outcomes. Ultimately, a better deal was reached benefiting Barrick and the Wiradjuri.