Addressing an audience including Prime Minister Tony Abbott, members of parliament and senior industry figures at the Minerals Council of Australia’s Minerals Industry Parliamentary Dinner, Harding said Australia’s miners needed to communicate better to avoid being misinterpreted.
“The mining industry has a long and proud history in Australia but traditionally we have let our actions speak for ourselves,” he said in the event’s sponsor’s address.
“On some occasions this has led to our contribution to Australia – whether it be economic, social or community – being underplayed or misunderstood.
“In the modern corporate environment and a world of 24-7 information flows, there is a growing obligation for all businesses to better communicate with stakeholders including governments, employees, customers or the community.
“Whether it’s explaining how business works or why strategic decisions have been taken, Australia’s business community needs to speak up.”
Harding stressed the importance of sharing the weight of responsibility between business and government.
“And this obligation extends to public policy advocacy. Business can’t leave all the heavy lifting to government. And the mining sector has an important role to play in the national conversation,” he said.
“We all have a job to do to tell our story.”
Harding said the government had fostered growth in the mining industry through its approach to business in Australia.
“Through collective action, government has underpinned the development of the minerals sector in Australia by providing growth in Australia,” he said.
“Government has done its job – it has helped business get on with business. In this sense, government is seen as a strategic partner in business success, a partnership that delivers a generous dividend to all Australians through jobs, taxes and economic and social development.”
Next year, Rio will celebrate 50 years of iron ore exports from Australia, and Harding said the company would continue to deliver for many years to come.
“What we have done over the past half a century has been good for Rio Tinto and great for the nation,” he said.
“We are determined to continue this record, delivering a solid return for both the people of Australia and our shareholders.”