Safety and security for gold mining entities, much like many other extraction, energy, and construction industries are separate disciplines, focusing on different benefits and vulnerabilities within the business, however, they tend to get blurred, overlap and at times absorbed into one. This is a consistent guarantee of failure, no matter how common the practice.
Safety and security share common evolutionary timelines. Safety at one point was a “nice to have”, and anyone with a keen eye, understanding for paperwork and passion for the role could essential work in safety. However, over time, it became a discipline, regulated, demonstrable outcomes and all but demanded by shareholders, workers, and management. Safety also created repeatable systems, comprehensive documentation and routine reporting on its results, etc. Unfortunately, security isn’t as well advanced along that timeline and regrettably, there are still too many of the “first generation” security practitioners around that go on a “gut feel” and the resulting security service and management are more akin to an art form than an accepted and competent business vertical. Not surprisingly, safety has an actual or perceived air of superiority on gold mining sites, and may even fall under the management and control of safety and safety professionals. This is nothing short of a trainwreck! You end up with a multi-million dollar investment, producing a liquidable, highly valuable product that celebrates hand washing initiatives and hunts down individuals involved in reversing collisions like they were war criminals, all the while the site and operations is losing hundreds of thousands and even millions in lost productivity, theft and other security related issues.
You can tell a lot by an organization, it’s security culture and onsite security appetite simply by looking at the management organization chart. Who’s does security report to? How determines and approves security’s budget? How removed is the senior security professional from the CEO or are they included in the C-Suite? If at any time, security is subordinate to community relations, human resources, security, finance or general admin…..the results are predictable, you won’t get any results! You have inferior management, poor technical skills/application within your security department and they can’t get anything heard or done because they are governed by departments and managers that are too busy and don’t have the first idea of professional corporate/industrial security. Even worse, they may even be threatened of losing this power or control, along with the budgets they have been using for their own end for so long. Safety may even be using security resources to do most of their work on a daily basis, such as checks, reporting, serviceability tours, inductions, and countless other time-consuming tasks not directly contributing to the strategic and tactical security agenda.
Professional commercial/industrial security is not a cost center on gold mining sites if done well. Security can be a profit center, assisting in the growth and expansion of the endeavor. In the initial stages significant wastage can be reduced or eliminated, opening up greater operating capital for the project and business. It can also contribute directly to the share price value, investor confidence and gross profit of the project and/or business. These are not wild statements and claims but demonstrable results achieved in the presence of contemporary management and progressive gold mining operations. Evolution over time will result in security becoming more akin to that of the well-trodden path of safety, with systems, reporting, metrics and improved safety and security experienced by the site and their inhabitants. Onsite/corporate security will also evolve to accommodation specific disciplines such as investigations, gold room security, technical security measures, investigations, guard force management, etc
If a business declared that the administration department managed legal, finance, safety, accounts, treasury, procurement, logistics and so on….you would immediately know the business was inefficient and poor across all areas as these are distinct and separate disciplines. The same goes for safety and security. Don’t clump them together because it is “convenient” or just plain lazy. There is no more assured failed job title in the world than Health, Safety, Security & Environment [HSSE] manager. It is evidence of bad culture and management, not the individual’s fault.