Newmont used to operate the Jundee mine site,* located approximately 50 kilometres northeast of Wiluna, Western Australia in the remote Yandal goldfield. The Martu people are the traditional owners of the land on which the mine is located.
In 2008, the Wiluna Regional Partnership Agreement was established between the Commonwealth and Western Australian Governments, representatives of the Martu community, a number of mining companies including Newmont, and various community agencies including Central Desert Native Title Services (Central Desert), with the aim of enhancing the Martu community’s opportunities for socioeconomic development. The focus of the agreement is on indigenous employability, real jobs, training and enterprise development in the Wiluna region.
Having identified an opportunity to link the Central Desert’s land management ranger program with Newmont Jundee’s environmental compliance obligations, a pilot Martu ranger program was launched in 2011, addressing the employment challenge through a new model of employment tied to the Martu community’s culture and priorities.
Following the pilot program’s success, a more formal program was established in 2012 with the Wiluna Martu rangers being contracted to deliver land management services, including fire, feral predator and erosion control, and biodiversity monitoring on the mine site for the first week of every month. This fits with the Martu’s cultural calendar, allowing them time off to meet their cultural obligations when they need to.
Since its inception, the project has delivered crucial environmental compliance and rehabilitation services across the 2 million hectares surrounding the mine site by protecting biodiversity in the region.
A key challenge has been how to make the ranger program inclusive while meeting Newmont’s corporate requirements such as its strict fitness for work and health and safety standards that require people working on the mine site to be of a particular age and fitness. A second ranger team was therefore established, which works on the broader pastoral lease that does not have the same strict requirements as the actual mine site. The program is now inclusive of women who can bring their children with them as they work on the pastoral lease, as well as elders and youth and others in the community who do not meet the strict fitness for work or health and safety requirements.
* Note that Newmont has divested from the Jundee site, but this case study remains relevant.