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How Newcrest's Lihir mine reduced time-to-fill by 50 percent

In 2019, Newcrest’s Lihir mine had an average time-to-fill of 190 days, and more than 500 vacant roles. Talent acquisition had become an administrative burden for the site HR team. But three years on, by making some simple process improvements and employing a Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) model, the gold operation reduced its time-to-fill by half, and now comfortably handles 500 roles per year.

Located on Lihir Island in Papua New Guinea, Lihir mine is one of the world’s largest producing gold operations. Acquired by Newmont Corporation in 2023, today it employs about 5,100 people at the mine, which has a combination of residential and fly-in-fly-out personnel.

This case study highlights how a mid-tier mining company can transform its recruitment process from an administrative burden to a strategic asset:

The problem:

When Newcrest’s team contacted us, they knew they needed to change their internal talent acquisition model. They were under immediate pressure from maintenance and production line managers and also wanted to set the operation up for success long term.

1. Decentralised HR function

Their site HR processes were decentralised from the corporate function, so they operated talent acquisition strategy in a standalone way.

“This is common for many miners we work with who have multiple overseas locations. Each location has its own hiring nuances, regulations, and hiring needs, so often different operations will adopt an independent talent acquisition model to give the team the flexibility they need,” says Justin Campbell, Head of Projects for Globe 24-7.

However, this decentralised setup can be a problem for some companies, as it doesn’t allow for collaboration and creates process inconsistencies.

2. Training and consistency with ATS

While they had a centralised Applicant Tracking System (ATS), there wasn’t any training and consistency around its use at the operation, so the HR team wasn’t utilising the system for managing talent pools or for managing candidate relationships.

3. Talent acquisition specialists

500 roles needed filling straight away, so there was an immediate gap in the workforce. The HR team were trying to keep the plates spinning but they were under pressure from fixed plant and mobile fleet maintenance departments to get the right people in place as quickly as possible. They were also facing large rates of attrition, so the total open roles were increasing by the day.

How they did it:

RPO model

Newcrest decided to bring in one of our dedicated RPO teams who specialise only in mining recruitment.

“Rather than operating in isolation, this team of 16 professionals integrated themselves into the project and collaborated closely with on-site HR staff to understand their specific requirements,” explains Justin.

Streamline processes and procedures

The team conducted workshops with key stakeholders to develop templates, tools, and processes built to Newcrest’s needs. By working closely with the HR manager, they identified key objectives and expectations to align with the company’s goals.

They had a competency framework that the business wanted us to conform to around interviews. So we helped them develop a full suite of tools and templates, including interview guides, scorecards, and long and shortlist templates.

Build live reporting dashboards

The second task was to provide transparency and insights into talent acquisition. Once the recruitment workflow and service level agreement were introduced, we created and implemented live Power BI dashboards for real-time reporting. This allowed the managers to quickly access relevant hiring information and identify stages in the process that needed attention.

In addition to the live reporting, we provided detailed reporting around time-to-fill and additional areas requiring improvement.

Outsourced TA team, working in-house

Third, our RPO team began supporting the internal team with end-to-end recruitment.

“We developed new adverts and flyers to identify talent, then identified, assessed, presented shortlisted candidates. The team engaged with hundreds of candidates and facilitated interviews with the hiring managers to evaluate whether they aligned with the site’s needs and culture,” says Justin.

Our team was also responsible for conducting pre-employment checks and offer negotiations before the successful candidate was introduced to the onboarding team.

The result:

Reduce time-to-fill by 50 percent, 1700 staff hired

“Newcrest achieved significant improvements over three years including reducing average time-to-fill from 190 days to an average of less than 90 days,” says Justin.

Over the past three years, they’ve continued to employ an RPO model because it works for them.

It’s helped them hire over 1,700 candidates during that time.

This remarkable improvement demonstrates the benefits of streamlining recruitment processes, working with a specialised mining RPO team, and leveraging your ATS.

Then and now: A complete transformation

The transformation of Newcrest’s recruitment process shows how important it is to invest in a dedicated talent acquisition function. By viewing recruitment as a strategic priority rather than an administrative task, everyone in the business wins.

Talent acquisition in the mining industry directly impacts a company’s success. However, it’s often still seen as an administrative burden rather than a strategic component of HR. This mindset leads to inefficiencies and missed opportunities for companies.

If you relate to Newcrest’s story and want to find out more about an RPO arrangement, get in touch for a chat. One of our delivery managers would be happy to hear about your specific challenges and make some recommendations to help streamline your talent acquisition processes.

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