The men who can change the Australian mining industry

THIS week, Allan Trench lists the names of those chairmen who can revolutionise the gender balance of minerals boards.

A small milestone to report this week – albeit one that has been 30 years in the making. Way back in the days when he was still learning the microscopic characteristics of plagioclase feldspar during mineralogy labs at the Royal School of Mines (RSM) in London in 1984, your scribe was elected to what is known at RSM as the Chaps Club – where the name somewhat gives it away as something of a gentlemen’s club for fledgling young mining industry professionals considered to be of sound character. It was a very proud moment at the time and remains so – to the point where the micro-sized membership booklet handed to each club initiate remains framed on the wall of my home office. Some of the details of joining the invitation-only club you can probably guess: for example, a fair amount of speed drinking was involved as part of the welcoming ceremony. A flaw in the club’s constitution however back then was that female students were not eligible to be elected. Debate raged to try to remedy that shortcoming but somehow nothing ever happened. An email report received last week confirms that 30 years on, the Chaps Club recently elected its first female member; a positive but very belated small step in the right direction.

That brings me to another pressing issue along the same lines: of greater consequence is the current poor representation of women on mining company boards. Your scribe is tiring of discussing and reading about the subject area to be honest – everywhere from the publications of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, to those of the Australian Institute of Mining & Metallurgy – to the national press – and to writing several past issues of Strictly Boardroom too. Never have so many column inches been written on the same subject – with seemingly so little impact.

Despite the sheer volume of words dedicated to the subject that has gone before, Strictly Boardroom will add further to the total tally here: Why? Because catalysing change is so important. If just words won’t make a difference then perhaps naming names will?

Here then is the list of the chairmen of those ASX-listed minerals companies (ex-oil and gas) within the largest 100 companies by market capitalisation where there is presently no female board representation. Strictly Boardroom hopes to publish this list again in the future – with the firm expectation it will be a far shorter list by that time.

There is a Churchill-style misquote that springs to mind: “Never in the history of the Australian mining industry has so much been said on a subject, by so very many, that could be solved by so very few”.

The chairmen listed below, many of whom are known personally by your scribe as our industry’s leaders, can solve the issue and save us all the collective embarrassment that the mining industry, at the highest level, is perceived by those outside it as being a boy’s club. The current gender bias on boards promotes such a perception rather than curtails it.

Please guys – let’s get the mining industry into the 21st Century – given that it is already 2016. We don’t have another 30 years to wait*:

Jim Askew – Robert Barraket – Debu Bhattacharya – Peter Bilbe – Peter Bird – Richard Block – Will Burbury – James Calaway – Peter Cassidy – James Chisholm – Mark Clark – Steven Cole – Gary Comb – Mark Connelly – Peter Cook – Seamus Cornelius – Otakar Demis – Kevin Dundo – John Dunlop – Eduardo Elsztain – Michael Evans – Dr Qixue Fang – Reg Gillard – David Hathorn – John Hopkins – Lee Hui – Peter Huston – Milan Jerkovic – Colin Jones – Rodney Joyce – Graham Kavanagh – Michael Kennedy – Robert Kennedy – Miles Kennedy – Jake Klein – Tony Leibowitz – Peter Lester – Xiyong Li – Richard Lockwood – Dr Garry Lowder – Jisheng Lu – Ken MacDonald – Ian Macliver – Kevin Maloney – Colin McCavana – Gerard McMahon – Ian Middlemas – John Morris – Peter Newton – Justyn Peters – Frank Poullas – Richard Procter – Bernie Pryor – David Quinlivan – Craig Readhead – Chris Rowe – Martin Rowley – David Somerville – Keith Spence – Andrew Teo – Michael Trumbull – Rick W Crabb – Dr Noel White – Rohan Williams – Ken Williams – Rex Wood-Ward – Peter Ziegler

Good hunting.

Allan Trench is a Professor at the University of Western Australia Business School and Research Professor (Value & Risk) at the Centre for Exploration Targeting, University of Western Australia, a Non-Executive Director of several resource sector companies – and the Perth representative for CRU Consulting, a division of independent metals & mining advisory CRU Group (allan.trench@crugroup.com).

*Chairperson names and company board composition analysis reflects content on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) website. Strictly Boardroom has previously found occasional errors and omissions from the www.ASX.com.au information – including the omission of female board members – and cannot entirely rule out inaccuracies from that source in the information synthesised here.  The largest ASX-listed minerals companies (excl. oil/gas) is collated each month by PCF Capital.

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