Aus inquiry says miners fail to protect women

STORY: The inquiry by mineral-rich Western Australia, home to the bulk of the country's iron ore industry, also criticized mining giants such as BHP and Rio Tinto for ignoring or overlooking unlawful and criminal behavior.

The release of the report followed a year-long investigation into concerns about a culture of sexism and bullying that fuelled public anger about workplace conditions last year, leading to what has been called Australia's MeToo moment.

Committee chair and member of Western Australia Parliament Libby Mettam said the abuse was "shocking, inexcusable, preventable".

Among 24 recommendations, it proposed the industry consider an offender register or other options "which could operate effectively and fairly to prevent habitual sexual harassment offenders continuing to be re-employed."

Rio published its own report in February which found that nearly 30% of women had experienced sexual harassment at work, with 21 women reporting actual or attempted rape or sexual assault.

Australia accounts for about half of the world's iron ore exports and women have long complained of sexual harassment in so-called "fly in, fly out" (FIFO) mining camps, temporary accommodation set up at remote mines to house workers.

Examples cited in the report included stalking, texting of lewd material, requests for sexual favors in return for a permanent job and sexual assaults. Western Australia's mining sector employs about 150,000 people and generated A$208 billion ($143 billion) in export revenue in 2020/21.

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