Barrick expands its Australia Pacific business

Jody Elliot, director of The Resource Channel, speaks with Barrick’s HR Director for Australia Pacific, Craig Beasley, as he shares his insights into the growth of the Australian Pacific business and what it means for employees.

Having just acquired Equinox Minerals in the largest Australian merger and acquisition transaction to date in 2011, Barrick has expanded its global operating sites to 26.

The acquisition of Equinox adds two additional copper assets to the Australian Pacific Region. With seven operating gold mines in Australia and the Porgera mine in Papua New Guinea, the Equinox sites expand the Australian Pacific Regional Business Unit area of operations from Western Australia, New South Wales and Papua New Guinea to Zambia and Saudi Arabia.

Jody Elliot (“JE”): Tell us about the Barrick global business.

Craig Beasley (“CB”): Barrick is the world’s largest gold producer, with a portfolio of 26 operating mines and a number of advanced exploration and development projects located across five continents, combined with large land positions on the most prolific and prospective mineral trends across the globe.

Our business is divided into regions, each managed by a regional president, supported by a regional leadership team comprised of the senior managers of each functional area of the business, being operations, finance, human resources, environment and so-on.

Our corporate headquarters is based in Toronto, and in the Australia-Pacific region our base is located in Perth, Western Australia. From here, we manage operations and sites in Australia, Papua New Guinea, Zambia and Saudi Arabia.

Our management style allows our sites to exercise a fair degree of autonomy in how they tackle site-specific challenges or issues, with positive guidance from our regional and corporate management teams. These teams help set the standards and policies that we expect our sites to follow, however site-level managers are responsible for managing local operations and functions.

This helps encourage innovation, and ensures that all of our workforce feel that they have an opportunity to be heard in the day-to-day management of our business.

JE: What is Barrick’s Employee Value Proposition and how does this translate to the employee experience?

CB: We know that our people are our company, whether they work in our offices, operations and projects in Canada, Australia, the United States, Africa, Papua New Guinea, South America or Pakistan. Our in-house talent management system enables us to identify talent right across the company and we take great care in how we nurture that talent. Supervisors and managers are trained and encouraged to identify the unique talents of their people, and to help develop those talents in highly effective ways. This lets employees know they are valued, and that their efforts count.

We have a comprehensive annual employee review process that involves performance commitments, employee talent discussions undertaken across the globe, 360 degree feedback, and one on one interviews and discussions with individual employees to make sure that all of our employees are given the right opportunities to develop and grow in their chosen fields.

A combination of individual and team based development and career planning strategies provides all of our employees with global growth opportunities right across our company – an excellent value proposition.

JE: What does the recent merger and acquisition activity mean for the company and its employees?

CB: The Australia-Pacific region has been chosen to manage the new assets our company acquired through its acquisition of Equinox, and we have spent the past couple of months integrating the Zambia-based Lumwana mine, together with the Saudi-based Jabal Sayyid development, into our regional operating framework.

It means that our regional workforce has grown significantly, but it also means that our employees now have even more options to explore when considering their career path within the global Barrick group.

JE: How is Barrick encouraging diversity in the workplace?

CB: Barrick is an equal opportunity employer, and with operations and projects in so many different countries, we also have a truly global workforce!

We encourage and support our employees in developing a career path within the organisation that may take them to any of our sites throughout the world, and by doing so, we encourage diversity.

JE: Most companies promote ‘career development opportunities’.  What specifically does Barrick offer around career development?

CB: At Barrick, specifically in the Australia Pacific region we have worked hard allowing employees from our region to explore other parts of the world and to bring in talent from our other operations. We do this through short-term project assignments, secondments for a specific amount of time and growth assignments that help round out an employee’s professional skill set.

We also provide training in a range of disciplines that prepare our employees for progression within the company, and in particular, for positions of greater responsibility or that require supervisory or leadership skills.

JE: What are you doing or looking to do differently in the recruitment space to source and attract candidates?

CB: We are going through similar challenges that other resources companies are. We have increased our focus in recent months in creating internal awareness with our current workforce of the exciting projects and results we are obtaining in the Australia Pacific region. We, then, in turn, are cognizant that an employee that is happy with the company will share their work experiences with colleagues outside of work.

JE: How does it differ from other companies you have worked for?

CB: Really, for me, the entrepreneurial spirit that empowers and motivates me to contribute to the company. The thought that I can create solutions and be creative in doing so without heavy bureaucratic procedures is appealing and separates Barrick from many other companies. 

Jody Elliott is the director of award-winning employment information website for the Australian resource sector, The Resource Channel. Through an alliance formed with IRJ, The Resource Channel contributes articles relating to the Australian resource sector on a regular basis.

Elliott has fifteen years in senior and management roles across human resources, career and organisational development, and recruitment, Jody has held positions at WMC Resources, CSR, Australian Rail Track Corporation, Santos and more recently, three years as Recruitment Manager with BHP Billiton.

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