But he never imagined that he would one day be in charge of one of the largest zinc, lead and silver mines in the world. “Mining always attracted me. I liked the idea of living, exploring and working in remote Australia. “I enjoy being part of small communities.” Earlier this year, he was promoted from Mine Manager to General Manager of the McArthur River Mine, 70 kilometres south-west of the Indigenous community of Borroloola in the Northern Territory.
He takes over from Sam Strohmayr, who has been promoted to Chief Operating Officer for Glencore’s Zinc Assets in Australia, which means he is ultimately responsible for MRM and the company’s Mount Isa mine. Steven, who has worked at McArthur River for six years, now has what would be a daunting job for most people – taking charge of about 1000 workers at a multibillion-dollar open-cast mining operation.
But he says: “I enjoy a good challenge and MRM has had its share over the past few years. The fact that the operation continues to improve is recognition of the quality people that we have working at MRM and their passion to see MRM succeed.
“The mine has a great future. I’ll have my part to play in shaping the operation and I am looking forward to being part of that future.”
Steven will continue to support four key MRM programs:
• Training as many Territorians as possible, in particular creating opportunities for Borroloola residents;
• Engaging and increasing the use of NT suppliers;
• Developing opportunities for more female participation in the operation; and
• Engaging with the Borroloola and wider NT community.
He says recruiting Territorians makes sense. “I read that people who have lived in the Territory for more than five years are unlikely to ever leave. “So, training local people means we are Glencore is one of the world’s largest global diversified natural resource companies and is one of the biggest companies within the FTSE 100 Index. Its industrial and marketing activities are supported by a global network of more than 90 offices in over 50 countries. The group’s diversified operations include more than 150 mining and metallurgical sites, offshore oil production assets, farms and agricultural facilities.
It employs about 155,000 people, including contractors. Training people who are likely to stay with us for a long time. “Losing skilled staff is costly and can affect efficiency, so it makes good business sense to recruit, train and retain NT people.” About 20 percent of MRM workforce are Indigenous, with a number of them from Borroloola. “We will continue to do our best to continue developing opportunities for more locals to join the mine,” says Steven. “That’s good for the Borroloola community, good for the mine and good for the Territory.” About 18 percent of ther staff are female, which is above the industry average.
“It is important that as an operation we continue to enable opportunities for women to be a part of our organisation,” Steven says. “It’s about diversity of thought, not meeting targets. That is the key message.” Community engagement has always been a big part of MRM’s operating strategy. The mine gives more than $1.3 million a year to the Community Benefits Trust, which was set up in 2007 for social and economic development initiatives. It funds a range of programs, including enterprise and job creation, environment, arts, culture, health, education, social and community development. More than $15 million has been pumped into more than 100 programs in the Gulf region.
MRM also sponsors many community events, including the hugely popular Borroloola rodeo and fundraising fun runs. And its staff enjoys raising money for charity, with competitive camps raising money for breast cancer research and prostate cancer research. “Community engagement is important to us,” says Steven. “We are a big part of the community and therefore it’s important that we have a voice. “It’s a part of the job that I particularly enjoy.” Steven, who was born in Queensland, joined the Army after leaving school and served in the infantry for four years. “I enjoyed life in the military and learnt a lot, particularly how vital discipline and clear communication is to ensure successful outcomes. “But I knew that the Army wasn’t something I wanted to do forever.”
After leaving the military, he went to the School of Mines in Kalgoorlie and studied for a mining engineering degree. From there Steven has spent the majority of his career living and working in the Pilbara, north west Queensland and the Northern Territory. Steven’s wife Tammie and three children, aged 14, 11 and 9, have moved to Darwin from their farm in western Victoria. They are settling in well – let’s hope that they don’t think Australia’s smallest capital city is a bit too big. TQ
Glencore is one of the world’s largest global diversified natural resource companies and is one of the biggest companies within the FTSE 100 Index. It’s industrial and marketing activities are supported by a global network of more than 90 offices in over 50 countries. The group’s diversified operations include more than 150 mining and metallurgical sites, offshore oil production assets, farms and agricultural facilities. It employs about 155,000 people, including contractors.