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How to prevent employee theft at your WA mine,

When we assess security for mine sites, we often talk about this from an

external perspective: threats from outside the mine and how to best protect

your assets, equipment and people.

But what about internal risk within the walls of the operation? Threats perpetrated

by an employee, contractor, subcontractor, or visitor to the mine who has front-row

access and all that insider knowledge you wouldn’t want placed in the hands of a


It seems hard to believe but employee theft is still very common in Australian mining.

After all, mine sites are resource-rich environments, a target for criminals, housing

millions of dollars of assets, equipment, precious metals and minerals.

And workers have direct, authorised access to all areas (an offender's dream!), from

the working face, exploration tenements, processing plants, site facilities, etc.

They’re there day in, day out, familiarising themselves with the mine layout,

processes, security protocols (and any apparent breaches), cultivating a strong level

of trust with co-workers and contractors alike. Or they may be taking note and

passing confidential information on to external parties.

This is why, it’s crucial all sites – large and small – have the correct Asset Protection

procedures and policies in place, as well as appropriate Risk Mitigation measures to

avoid internal and external theft, damage to assets and more.

Internal theft not only causes financial loss to an operation’s bottom line but also

undermines the trust and safety of the workplace. Serious business!

In this article, we discuss the history of employee theft in the WA mining, the impact

of these incidents, and the strategies mine owners can implement to prevent them.

A history of employee theft in WA Mining

So where do we begin? How long has mine site theft been happening?

Well, according to our friends over at the WA Police, stealing has been happening in

the Goldfields region since the very early days of the Goldrush.

“Gold-miners would smuggle out what gold they could while working and the thieving

was commonly regarded as a miner's privilege,” WA Police states on its website.

“Everyone seemed to be profiting from the proceeds of gold stealing, much to the

frustration of the mining companies and despair of the local police, who were simply

unable to keep up with the number of complaints they received.”

Since this time, security measures, and technologies available to mines, have

improved significantly, and companies have learned from past incidents to mitigate

future threats. However, theft is still problematic for the industry.

Exhibit A: let’s take a look at a timeline of headlines from the last 15 years of internal

theft in Australian mining.

These are just some of the crimes we stumbled across in our research – and we

know there are many more:

  • January 2009Six men were charged with the theft of vehicle parts from KCGM and safety equipment from the Darlot mine in the eastern Goldfields.

  • November 2011 – Two contractors were found guilty of stealing $92,000 worth of gold from the Jundee mine.

  • September 2014 - Three sub-contractors were charged with stealing 340 litres of fuel from Iluka Resources’ Murray Basin mine in Victoria’s north west.

  • March 2015 – A mineworker was charged for allegedly stealing 300kg of copper wire at an NSW mine.

  • May 2015 – More than 100kg of explosive were stolen from Higginsville gold mine by a disgruntled former employee.

  • May 2017 – A 52-year-old Kalgoorlie mine employee was charged with stealing $200,000 worth of gold from a mine near Laverton.

  • March 2018 – A 38-year-old Kalgoorlie mine worker was charged with stealing 2.3kg of gold from several sites.

  • June 2019 – A 30-year-old mill reliner sub-contractor was charged with stealing $81,000 worth of gold over a four year period at a WA mine.

  • January 2021 – Three men were charged over an alleged million dollar gold theft from a WA mining company.

  • November 2022 - Two men were charged with stealing 7500 litres of fuel from Moranabah, a central Queensland mine site.

  • January 2023 – A group of Rio Tinto site supervisors resigned over an alleged $3 million theft by purchasing large amounts of equipment, reporting them lost/damaged and reselling privately.

In the above cases, employees have been involved in stealing gold and copper from

site, hazardous explosives, fuel, and defrauding an operation by mass ordering

equipment and re-selling – and this was allegedly committed by site supervisors,

staff with authority!

Measures to prevent employee theft

No matter how watertight your security strategy might be, it is best to enlist the help

of a professional security provider who can look at your risk mitigation measures and

security policies and procedures with fresh eyes to identify potential breaches.

At Goldfields Security Services, we offer Risk Assessments that are tailored to our

clients’ operations and will put together a plan that is focused on reducing the risk of

internal theft, identifying potential vulnerabilities and areas for improvement.

This could include a review of security protocols, access control, and the movement

of assets through the value chain and include measures such as:

  •  Introducing thermal cameras and increasing security camera presence and monitoring in high-risk zones.

  •  Background checks on employees / appropriate vetting of contractors and anyone that has access to the physical mine or digital assets.

  •  Strong site supervision with security patrols and guards stationed on site.

  •  Regular audits and stocktake to keep all employees accountable.

  •  Internal reporting system and communication material where employees can report suspicious activity

  •  Records of who has entered into the mine and different areas / tracking technology

  •  Enhanced security for restricted areas of the mine, ensuring personnel aren’t able to access unauthorised zones

  •  Daily searches for front-line workers and searches conducted when staff leave the site

Improve safety and security at your WA mine today

Are you looking to improve safety on site and reduce the risk of employee theft?

We’d love to hear from you. Call us on 0404 449 326 or email

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