A landmark inquiry into Australia’s mining sector has uncovered dozens of shocking cases of sexual harassment and abuse of female workers at companies including BHP Group and Rio Tinto Group.
The government of Western Australia described “horrific” incidents at the workplaces in a report yesterday, saying that the the incidents were a failure of the industry and government oversight.
Among the recommendations were the payment of compensation to the many workers who were victims of bosses and colleagues on remote projects.
“I was shocked and appalled well beyond expectation by the size and depth of the problem,” inquiry chair Libby Mettam said in the report.
“To hear the lived reality of the taunts, attacks and targeted violence, the devastation and despair the victims experienced, the threats to or loss of their livelihood that resulted was shattering and completely inexcusable,” she said.
The probe delved into the dark corners of an industry that is under mounting pressure from investors, governments and society to address its impacts on local communities and the wider environment.
BHP and Rio Tinto issued their own inquiries after allegations from women emerged in Western Australia’s lucrative resources industry, where so-called “Fly In-Fly Out” (FIFO) workers are transported to remote sites for several weeks at a time.
Allegations of abuse included a woman involved in a safety issue who was told by a supervisor she could “make the issue go away” if she had sex with him.
Another was knocked unconscious in her room and woke up undressed with her jeans around her ankles.
Another described how a man forced his hands down her top several times in front of other workers and “no one did anything.”
After complaining about colleagues making sexual jokes about her, a woman said her supervisor’s response was to “force himself on her.”
Other allegations included sex dolls and toys placed in women’s sleeping quarters; stalking, unsolicited texting, and provocative photo requests; and “shoveling,” in which iron ore was dumped inside the vehicles of female drivers who did not comply with sexual requests.
The inquiry revealed that BHP Group recorded 91 reports of alleged sexual harassment or assault in the year through June 30 last year, of which 79 were substantiated.
Rio Tinto, from January 2020 to August last year, received 51 complaints of sexual harassment or assault in FIFO operations, including one substantiated report of sexual assault and 29 substantiated reports of sexual harassment.
“Rio will closely study the report’s recommendations,” the company’s iron ore chief Simon Trott said in a statement. “The courage of people coming forward to tell their stories has been critical in terms of shining a light on behaviors that must change within our company and our industry.”
Allegations of abuse were also received at projects operated by Woodside Petroleum, Fortescue Metals Group and Chevron Corp.
Chevron said it would also review the findings and the inquiry has “provided a critical opportunity to learn, act and improve.”
Fortescue CEO Elizabeth Gaines said that while the company has implemented safety enhancements at worksites after conducting its own review, “we acknowledge that some inappropriate behavior still occurs.”
In Western Australia, a resource-rich state four times the size of France that is the center of a massive iron ore industry, remote mines that can only be accessed through flights by FIFO workers have been especially risky for women. They remain largely male-dominated, with workers living in camp-style accommodation.
FEELING THREATENED: The first military commission under Kim Jong-un’s leadership to last longer than a day is a sign of a growing escalatory doctrine, an analyst said North Korea discussed assigning additional duties to its frontline army units at a key military meeting, state media said yesterday, suggesting that the country might deploy battlefield nuclear weapons targeting South Korea along the rivals’ tense border. The discussion comes as South Korean officials said North Korea has finished preparations for its first nuclear test in five years, as part of possible efforts to build a warhead to be mounted on short-range weapons capable of hitting targets in South Korea. During an ongoing meeting of the Central Military Commission of the ruling Workers’ Party on Wednesday, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and
TRADE TALK: Xiao Qian said that Australia had fired the ‘first shot’ in deteriorating trade relations with China, but improvements were possible if Canberra takes action China’s new ambassador to Australia chided protesters who heckled him yesterday during a speech about the future of relations between the two countries. Xiao Qian (肖千), who has only been in the role since January, had just begun his speech at the University of Technology Sydney when the first protesters interjected, calling for freedom for Xinjiang, Tibet and Hong Kong. The ambassador was repeatedly interrupted by sign-wielding protesters, some criticizing China’s treatment of the Uighur people as well as the university for inviting Xiao to speak. “People who are coming again and again to interrupt the process, that’s not expression of freedom of
China’s COVID-19 outbreak is shifting to its south coast, with a flareup in Shenzhen triggering mass testing and a lockdown of some neighborhoods, while Macau — an hour’s drive away — is racing to stop its first outbreak in eight months. The new cases come as China’s two most important cities, Beijing and Shanghai, look to be subduing the virus after months of strict curbs and repeated testing. Shanghai yesterday reported nine local cases, while Beijing reported five. Nationwide, China yesterday reported 34 new COVID-19 infections. Yet new clusters continue to emerge, prompting action from local officials. Borders are increasingly under pressure, with
New Zealand stargazers were left puzzled and awed by strange, spiraling light formations in the night sky on Sunday night. At about 7:25pm, Alasdair Burns, a stargazing guide on Stewart Island, also called Rakiura, received a text from a friend saying to go outside and look at the sky. He went out and saw a huge, blue spiral of light amid the darkness. “It looked like an enormous spiral galaxy, just hanging there in the sky,” Burns said. “Quite an eerie feeling.” “We quickly banged on the doors of all our neighbors to get them out as well. And so there were