Funded by the voluntary contributions of members of the Minerals Council of Australia, the two-minute advertisements aim to improve the public perception of the mining industry through personal, intimate stories.
For example, John Watson, a climate change manager for Xstrata, discusses his role in a recycled water programme in the Hunter Valley. Len Thong, who came to Australia as an orphaned three year old refugee, supervises the group-wide implementation of Rio Tinto?s management reporting applications. French-born Marie Bourgain is a manager at Rio?s operations centre in Perth, where she supervises automated rail, port and mine operations 1500km away. Bruce Chater, a local GP in the flood-ravaged Queensland town of Theodore, discusses the resources mobilised by Anglo-American to evacuate the town?s citizens in December last year.
These stories are repeated and elaborated upon at the campaign?s website – http://thisisourstory.com.au
On the site, the mining industry also spruiks its contribution to Australia?s mineral wealth and the economy, its support of local communities, its commitment to the rehabilitation of mined lands, and its investment in training and education to create highly skilled professionals and future industry leaders.
Outside of this campaign, the mining industry has had another shot in the arm thanks to the feature film Red Dog, a charming story of a dying kelpie that wins the hearts of the residents of a mining operation in Dampier. Rio Tinto provided funding and logistical support for the film and its 7 Mile and East Intercourse Island sites featured in some of the Pilbara locations. Both Red Dog and the Our story campaign, through intimate and powerful storytelling, convey to laymen and laywomen the importance of the resources sector to most facets of their lives. The rags to riches stories of immigrants Len and Marie also convey the exciting career opportunities mining has to offer people from all walks of life, provided they have the qualifications, skills and the will behind them.
I?m happy to admit this positive coverage of a sister industry makes me green with envy! This is the campaign that quarrying deserves and would benefit from enormously. I?ve written many times in this column of my frustration that the mainstream media attaches more importance to the resources sector than the quarrying and extractive industries, despite quarrying?s contribution to the Australian way of life being no less important. The mining industry is using this campaign to underline how crucial its support of flood-stricken communities in Queensland was last summer yet it is forgotten how essential quarry operations along Australia?s east coast are to the rebuilding of Queensland?s infrastructure.
The mining industry also depends on the construction materials industry for the infrastructure of its operations. The Gorgon Project on Barrow Island, also in the Pilbara, could not have happened without the supply of concrete from Holcim Australia. Similarly, Holcim Bundaberg?s Bargara Quarry recently despatched 17,000 tonnes of drainage aggregate to Santos? multi-million dollar Gladstone Liquefied Natural Gas Project on Curtis Island. Would these projects be possible without quarrying?s support?
A similar campaign for the quarrying industry is well overdue, especially at a time when it has an ageing workforce and there is competition from the mining industry for skilled workers. As the mining boom continues, the rivalry of the two sectors for skilled people will intensify. Quarrying may need to follow mining?s lead to similarly appeal to the public. That may require contributions by some of the major and medium sized construction materials companies and industry bodies like the IQA, the CCAA and the CMPA to redress the balance.