Rio Tinto’s newest mine – Oyu Tolgoi in Mongolia’s South Gobi desert – is also one of the industry’s most gender-diverse.
The copper and gold mine, which began production in 2013, has a workforce of nearly 40 per cent women – employed at all levels of the business. It’s a figure almost double the average for mines around the world.
The story of one of these women – Oyunsuren Nyamjav, who is one of the company’s main truck drivers – recently reached the pages of The Australian.
Four years ago, when Oyunsuren was studying medicine at university, both her parents suddenly died. Following Mongolian tradition, as the eldest sibling, Oyunsuren stepped up to take financial responsibility for her family, who live in Khanbogd village – around an hour from the mine. After completing 18 months of training, she now drives the haul trucks that are as tall as a building.
“It’s a 300-tonne truck; there is nowhere else in Mongolia where that exists,” Oyunsuren said. “When [my friends] see the pictures they say ‘how is that possible, you are so tiny?’
“Driving that makes me very proud and it makes me work harder each day.”
Mongolian nationals comprise 95 per cent of Oyu Tolgoi’s workforce, and the company takes a whole-career approach to building its talent pipeline – from the earliest years of education, through to identifying and developing the leaders of today and tomorrow.
Oyunsuren is one of the many people who have taken part in Oyu Tolgoi’s talent development programmes, which include training, education, scholarships and apprenticeships, and are central to the company’s long-term approach to meeting its workforce needs.
Pictured: Oyunsuren Nyamjav drives haul trucks at Oyu Tolgoi in Mongolia
In the first half of 2015, Oyu Tolgoi invested US$1.5 million in education and training programmes, and, to date, has funded training of nearly 300 teachers and school managers to Australian national standards.
More than 70 per cent of the mine’s employees are aged 25 to 39, and many younger employees have moved into leadership roles in the past few years. During 2014 and 2015, five Mongolian managers, 19 superintendents and 54 supervisors were promoted into leadership roles from within the business.
In October, the company also launched its pre-apprentice programme in Khanbogd, as another step forward in its commitment to developing capacity in Umnogobi province.
“Mongolian youths have great talent and potential,” said Andrew Miller, general manager, Infrastructure & Services. “Working together with our partner communities, we are focused on developing skills to a global standard – fostering sustainable development for the long term.”
Over the next six months, the first cohort of 24 trainees will undertake specialised courses in electrical trade, welding and mechanics – and will receive internationally-recognised Australian trade certificates upon successful completion of the programme.
Read more about Oyu Tolgoi’s commitment to education and training.