City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder Mayor John Bowler says he will have to take at face value a Chinese-owned, Goldfields-based miner’s claim it procured less than one per cent of its products from China.
A leaked 13-page email exchange tabled in State Parliament last week paints a damning picture of what appears to be a deliberate move by Norton Gold Fields to shift its procurement towards Chinese suppliers.
But in a statement, Norton Gold Fields said assumptions the company was looking to ramp up procurement from China were “incorrect”.
Norton Gold Fields, which owns and operates the Paddington goldmine 30km north of Kalgoorlie-Boulder, was snapped up by Zinjin Mining in 2015.
An email between Norton Gold Fields and its parent company on May 31 said it was Zinjin’s desire to “enforce a centralised procurement and logistics system and bring more products with Chinese elements” to Norton Gold Fields.
Another email said with company contracts coming up for renewal, it was a timely opportunity to source “Chinese pricing”.
Another exchange describes getting a quote for steel balls from the only Chinese manufacturer exempt from anti-dumping tariffs on importing steel balls into Australia.
One in-house email said if the company did not support the “cost saving drive, our necks are on the line”.
Pauline Hanson’s One Nation MP Robin Scott tabled the exchange in Parliament and said the State was “selling off the farm to overseas companies”.
These overseas companies are now stocking the farm with stock and equipment from their own countries,
A letter also tabled in Parliament from Mr Bowler to Mr Scott described the email exchanges as “deplorable” and “by far the worst” example he had seen.
But Norton Goldfields said while the exchange, when seen in isolation, suggested a move towards Chinese procurement, that was not the case.
Norton Goldfields chief operations officer for Paddington Maoheng Zhang said less than one per cent of the company’s spend on products and services was directly purchased from China.
“Time and again, Norton Gold Fields has demonstrated that buying goods and services within the city of Kalgoorlie Boulder is a good value-for-money proposition, both internally and to our parent company Zijin,” Mr Zhang said.
Mr Zhang said the company had contributed more than $500,000 in local sponsorship since 2015 and was conscious of putting the community first.
“Norton Gold Fields’ employment strategy results in $43 million being injected into the community each year in salary and wages,” he said.
“In addition to this, 75 per cent of our contractor workforce is also residential, meaning another 160 contractors and their families reside in Kalgoorlie.”
The recent revelations come during a campaign by the City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder council to urge greater community support from miners.
“This is the worst, on the face of it, and I hope that the company does realise that this is not good business practice for them,” Mr Bowler said.
If the company has recanted, good on them, but if they don’t they should be condemned. I hope what they say is right and I will trust them until proved otherwise.