Australian investigation says miners fail to protect women, back criminal registration

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: In this Sept. 5, 2016, aerial photo, iron ore mining operations, including the rail network, can be seen in the Western Australian outback near the city of Port Hedland. Photo taken on September 5, 2016. REUTERS/David Gray

by Praveen Menon and Byron Kaye

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia’s mining industry should consider registering perpetrators of sexual harassment to help curb widespread abuse, a state government report on Thursday said detailing “horrific” and “appalling” targeting of women. “A case of conduct.

The mineral-rich state of Western Australia is home to the country’s iron ore industry, and the investigation also criticized mining giants such as BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto (NYSE: ) for ignoring or ignoring illegal and criminal practices.

The release of the report comes after a year-long investigation into concerns about a sexist and bullying culture that sparked public outrage over workplace conditions last year, leading to the so-called MeToo moment in Australia.

Australia, which accounts for about half of the world’s iron ore exports, has long complained of sexual harassment at so-called “fly-in-fly-out” mining camps, temporary shelters set up in remote mines to accommodate workers.

“I am appalled and appalled by the scale and depth of the problem, far beyond expectations,” committee chair Libby Mehtam said in a speech to parliament at the time of the presentation of the report.

“We are told how sexual harassment is commonly accepted or ignored.”

Examples cited in the report include stalking, texting of lewd material, requests for sexual services in exchange for long-term employment and sexual assault.

A woman has told the inquest how she was knocked unconscious in her accommodation cabin and woke up to find her jeans and panties wrapped around her ankles leaving her “disgusted, ashamed, violated, dirty and very confused” “.

“We’ve heard of a power-play practice known as ‘shoveling’, where iron ore is dumped in the cab of a truck driven by a woman if she doesn’t comply with sexual demands,” the report said.

Individuals who spoke to the committee said perpetrators of severe harassment simply changed workplaces or were employed by another company, the report said.

Of the 24 recommendations, it suggested the industry consider establishing offender registers or other options that “can operate effectively and fairly to prevent habitual harassment offenders from continuing to be rehired”.

It also suggested establishing a forum to document victims’ historical experiences and explore remedial opportunities, such as formal apologies and reparations.

Other recommendations relate to improved harassment reporting, better training for workers and managers, improved accommodation and safety in mine camps and restrictions on alcohol consumption.

abusive culture

Major global miners including BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Fortescue have submitted submissions to the inquiry, with most admitting sexual harassment is widespread at mining camps in Western Australia and hope for reform.

But bullying and abuse in the industry has continued over the past 18 months.

Rio Tinto said in a statement it would closely study the recommendations contained in the report.

Rio Tinto released its own report in February, which found that nearly 30 percent of women had experienced sexual harassment at work, with 21 women reporting actual or attempted rape or sexual assault.

In 2020/21, Western Australia’s mining industry employed around 150,000 people and generated A$208 billion (US$143 billion) in export earnings.

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