DPA Members employ large workforces in safe, highly qualified, high paying jobs. The large majority of these workers come from the region or community in which the operation is located, which in turns leads to the creation of healthy local economies.
DPA members employ over
employees and contractors. They substantially invest in fair employment, workplace health and safety, diversity, career development, training and apprenticeship programs that build valuable, transferable skills for employees in communities around the world.
Our key focus areas
Diamond mining involves operating large pieces of equipment and dealing with geological risks. This is why DPA Members put the safety and wellbeing of their employees and contractors ahead of any other consideration.
Keeping employees safe is a never-ending journey and the responsibility of everyone on site. It requires a strong safety culture in which no shortcuts or compromises are acceptable if they could result in an injury. It also requires following strict rules and processes, wearing the appropriate protective equipment, analyzing every task for its safety risk before performing it and continuously training teams to employ safe behaviors.
Creating a strong safety culture in which “safety comes first” is a prerequisite to implementing effective safety programs and initiatives which will lead to tangible results. Effective programs can generate spectacular results:
- ALROSA invested over US$18 million on industrial health and safety initiatives in 2016 alone. Their strong focus on workplace safety has led ALROSA’s injury rate to fall 20% since 2012.
- Petra Diamond’s Occupational Health and Safety initiative has led to an 82% improvement in rates of lost-time injury over the seven years to 2018.
- Rio Tinto’s critical risk management program has led to a 35% improvement in the injury rates across its sites worldwide between 2013 and 2017.
There is one diamond mining incident per million hours worked.
Here’s how modern diamond mining compares with other industries:
Lost Time Injury Frequency Rates per 200,000 hours worked
0.20 DPA Average
1.20 Telecom (Wireless)
1.34 Business & Consumer Services
8.70 Engineering/ Construction
DPA Members offer attractive training and employment opportunities as they require a highly trained and skilled workforce—employing engineers, programmers, haul truck drivers, mechanics, environmental scientists and support staff, to name a few. Members also invest in their employees to build a skilled workforce with practical and transferrable skills that extend beyond mining operations.
In 2016, employees and permanent contractors received a total of US$3.9 billion in direct and indirect benefits from the payment of wages and other benefits. Wages paid by DPA Members are highly competitive due to the large number of skilled roles and the remoteness of some operations.
On average they are 66% higher than the national average salary and five times the living wage in the countries of operation.
A Career in my Own Community
“If you protect the land, the land will protect you,” is a common saying among Metis elders. Kimi Balsallie has carried this with her both personally and professionally. An Environmental Officer at the Gahcho Kué Diamond Mine in the Northwest Territories in Canada, Kimi says, “we have three golden rules: zero harm, continual improvement and resource compliance.” Kimi has had the opportunity to see the diamond sector from multiple perspectives as she previously worked for the local government.
This has given her a holistic view of the importance placed on employee safety, environmental standards and respect for Indigenous communities.
Kimi personifies the changes the region has seen since diamonds were discovered in the early 1990s. She once believed she would need to leave Yellowknife, the remote town in northern Canada where she grew up, to find career options. The discovery of diamonds has revived the community, as the mining companies seek to hire local residents, particularly Indigenous People.
Kimi Balsallie, Environmental Officer at the Gahcho Kué Diamond Mine on site in the Northwest Territories, Canada. Since diamonds were discovered there in the early 1990s, Canada has become the 3rd largest diamond producer in the world.
Career Paths Forged in Local Communities
The Ekati mine hosts a dynamic working community of talented individuals. Approximately 1,400 employees and contractors work at the Ekati site and are given opportunities for long-term career growth. Many employees come from northern communities, including Susan Baines.
Susan, an Iqaluit-born Inuk, was raised in Yellowknife and began her career at the Ekati mine as a contract Administrative Assistant, before becoming permanent Administrative Specialist to the Chief Operating Officer. She soon found that Dominion Diamond gave her ample opportunity to expand outside of her role and grow her skillset.
“If you’re willing to learn and work towards a goal, there are plenty of opportunities to expand,” said Susan. In 2016, she was promoted to SharePoint Administrator, working with departments across the company to apply their content and processes into SharePoint, an online document management system. To assist with the transition, Dominion provided Susan with external learning opportunities, including sponsoring her participation in the Northern Leadership Development Program (NLDP), and allowed her to determine best practices for her work.
Susan Baines, SharePoint Administrator and graduate of the Northern Leadership Development Program, Dominion Diamond Mines.
DPA Members recognize the many benefits of a diverse workforce and aim whenever possible to employ members of local communities. More than half of all employees at the Ekati mine are Indigenous and 94% of employees at ALROSA’s operations in Siberia are residents of Yakutia. In Botswana, 98% of Lucara’s workforce is Botswanan; 84% of De Beers Group employees in South Africa are from historically disadvantaged groups.
Efforts to increase diversity also include programs to increase mentorship and leadership opportunities for women. Significant progress toward increasing the representation of women across all levels of the workforce has already been made as a result of our Members’ programs.
- At the Ekati Diamond Mine, 69% of women are employed in traditionally male-dominated roles such as apprentice carpenters, crane operators, machinists, millwrights, plumbers and technicians.
- 40% of businesses taking part in De Beers Group’s Tokafala Enterprise Development Initiatives are women-owned or co-owned. The program helps people in communities near its operations in Botswana start or grow their business.
- Petra’s Women in Mining (WIM) Committee provides a platform for women at Petra’s South African operations to share experiences, identify challenges in the workplace and promote development opportunities.
- Rio Tinto has helped to support the development of an all-women diamond cutting and polishing factory in Ahmedabad, in the western state of Gujarat, India. The three-month training program provides women with the opportunity to double their income as they move out of jobs in lower paying industries.
Leading Women in Mining
With a few key appointments, Lucara Diamonds has been able to make significant inroads in increasing the representation of women at senior leadership roles, now at 80%. Eira Thomas, CEO of Lucara, is one of the few women leading mining companies globally. Across the mining industry, “[T]he conversation at the top has really changed now. The evidence is in that diverse companies are stronger businesses that perform better. The question now is how do we find and attract the right female talent.”
Eira is quick to point out that these appointments were merit based and not part of a decision to hire more women. “It was a matter of availability of strong talent at the time we were looking and we were very quick to jump on it.” She does hope that this serves to encourage women in mining: “It’s so important that younger employees can look up and see that there are no barriers to what they can achieve.”
Naseem Lahri, Managing Director of Lucara Botswana, is the first woman to serve as the managing director of a diamond mine in Botswana. She collaborates with colleagues to ensure the proper running and safety of the mine.
Building and operating a diamond mine over several decades in often remote regions of the world requires making long-term commitments to local communities in education, skills development and employment. A successful mining operation is always the result of strong mutually beneficial partnerships with local communities. This is why DPA Members work with local communities and governments to maximize employment from local populations.
As Members shape professional workforces with a long-term view in mind, they invest significantly in career development, training and apprenticeship programs, and in building transferable skills for employees and local community members. It is not unusual to see several generations of the same family working at the same site.
Polishing Prospective Talent
Since it was founded in 2003, the Mine Training Society has supported Indigenous people and other residents of the Northwest Territories, Canada in finding long-term employment in the mining industry through its vocational training courses. Working with employers like Rio Tinto, Dominion Diamond Mines and De Beers Group, the society has been able to place over 1,100 people in long-term roles. This is equivalent to 5% of the entire labor force in the Northwest Territories.
The Mine Training Society runs a variety of programs including Underground and Surface Miner Training, Mineral Processing Operator, Safety Boot Camp and more. The programs range in length from two days to 14 weeks. Graduates of these program have gone on to positions at all three diamond mines in the Northwest Territories.
At Dominion Diamond’s Ekati mine, approximately 50 individuals participate in the apprenticeship program each year, both with Dominion and through contract partners. All apprentices have the opportunity to work closely with the onsite adult educator who supports their continuing education. The program also enables participation in skills competitions, which helps develop knowledge and build confidence.
The Mine Training Society is a partnership between Indigenous governments, the Canadian federal government, the territorial government and the mining industry in Canada.
The Mine Training Society program helps apprentices develop skills and knowledge for careers in the mining industry. Aaron Campbell, shown here, is now a processing plant lead hand at Diavik and a graduate of the MTS program.
Skills are Forever
At Petra Diamond’s Koffiefontein mine in South Africa, the Portable Skills Program was launched in 2009 to provide capabilities beyond those developed through employees’ everyday work. The program aims to empower participants through training for future opportunities. Since its inception, the program has progressively added training options and now offers carpentry, engineering, agriculture and computing amongst other skills.
Josiah Mosime, an early participant in the program, was a maintenance clerk with Petra when he undertook the bricklaying course. Through the skills he acquired, he now helps support the career of his wife, a funeral director, by making headstones for her business. He has also gone on to apply for bricklaying opportunities within Petra based on the qualification he earned with the program.
Petra’s Portable Skills Program teaches high value trades, such as carpentry, to help employees learn skills beyond their everyday jobs.
Gaining Valuable Skills for a Career in Mining
At Dominion Diamond’s Ekati mine in northern Canada, apprentices develop skills and knowledge for rewarding careers in the mining industry. Three apprentices recently completed four-year programs and are now certified journeypersons working at the mine.
Logan Andrew completed Level IV Technical training in carpentry, while Stefan Christensen and Leland Chinna completed their Level IV Technical training in the electrical field. Stefan also finished his electrical red seal certification, which provides him the opportunity to work anywhere in North America.
The apprenticeship programs involve an intense and demanding workload, requiring both classroom and practical experience. Apprentices are required to complete a minimum of 1,500 hours of work in each year of the program along with 8-12 weeks of classroom work. At the end of each year, students must pass practical exams in order to move on to the next year of the program.
As graduates, Stefan, Leland and Logan are now able to mentor those participating or thinking about participating in the apprenticeship program. They are also encouraged to seek out new practices, technology, and resources to enhance their experience.
Leland Chinna installs electrical systems at the Ekati mine.