Mining industry reveals community engagement during August Muswellbrook Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) breakfast

GROUP EFFORT: MCCI's Mike Kelly; MACH Energy's Richard Bailey and Simon Collins; NSW Minerals Council's James Barben; Bengalla's Phillip Hollway; BHP's David Boshoff; Thiess' Heather Parry and C-Res' John Aurisch.
GROUP EFFORT: MCCI's Mike Kelly; MACH Energy's Richard Bailey and Simon Collins; NSW Minerals Council's James Barben; Bengalla's Phillip Hollway; BHP's David Boshoff; Thiess' Heather Parry and C-Res' John Aurisch.

HUNDREDS of local businesses employed and hundreds of millions in royalties contributed to the Upper Hunter - those were figures being pushed by a plethora of mining-related companies during the August Muswellbrook Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI) breakfast on Tuesday.

Their influence on the region was made undeniable as representatives from the likes of BHP, MACH Energy, C-Res, Bengalla, Thiess and the NSW Minerals Council spoke about topics such as community engagement and procurement.

Across the seven speakers, a number of issues were addressed, although the overriding theme was about the importance of local businesses and how the mining sector communicates with them.

Business development manager at C-Res, John Aurisch, discussed their relationship with BHP and what they have been able to accomplish, as well as expressing his belief that small businesses are the heart and soul of any town.

He said 1388 organisations around the nation had used their Local Buying Program.

"The program enables small local businesses to supply goods and services to BHP, BMA and BMC operations via a competitive tender process with reduced payment terms," states their website.

"Businesses also receive direct support from C-Res business engagement advisors and the program administration team."

Mr Aurisch also revealed some of the projects they were currently funding in the area, including the Upper Hunter Country Tourism Website, Singleton Community Training Kitchen, Scone Live Work Invest stage two and the Muswellbrook Chamber of Commerce and Industry business awards.

Procurement superintendent at Bengalla, Phil Hollway, also took the opportunity to speak about how important he felt it was to keep a close relationship with the residents and traders in the area.

"Bengalla has a very proud history supporting the community not just in donations and sponsorship, but in purchasing," he said.

He revealed they have a system in which they target local employers and, in fact, spent $93 million in Muswellbrook alone last year.

Thiess operations manager Heather Parry took a more anecdotal angle, touching on a program they run in which they actively seek to work with Indigenous suppliers from the region.

They also have inmates aid them with construction and seek to continue a positive relationship with them, as some join their operations or even start their own business and work with Thiess once they're released.

All parties insisted they would continue to focus on finding ways to assist Muswellbrook and surrounding LGAs while they are still active in the area.

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