The Australian Workers Union (AWU) and the Mining and Energy Union (MEU) have announced the formation of a new alliance. 

The unions say they are joining forces to create the NSW Mine Workers’ Alliance, representing workers in metalliferous mining across the state. 

The NSW Mine Workers’ Alliance will officially begin operations on 1 July 2024, following launch events this week in Cobar and Broken Hill. 

The alliance aims to ensure that the mining hubs in western NSW, such as those producing gold, cobalt, copper, lead, zinc, nickel, and silver, benefit from the growing industries related to critical minerals.

AWU NSW Secretary Tony Callinan says the partnership will provide increased services and support for members in western NSW, alongside the potential for organising a more robust and united mining workforce.

Despite the optimistic projections for critical minerals like copper, zinc, and cobalt, advocates say mineworkers face uncertainties about their futures. 

“We know that products like copper, zinc, and cobalt are essential to building Australia’s economy. But we also know from experience that workers and communities need a strong voice to get their fair share,” said MEU South Western District Secretary Andy Davey.

“Our Alliance will fight for the investment, good jobs, and community services our NSW mining towns need to benefit from mining industries of the future.”

Existing members of the AWU and MEU will have the option to transfer their membership to the new alliance, while new members will directly join the NSW Mine Workers Alliance (NSWMWA). 

This alliance follows a similar model to the Western Mine Workers Alliance launched in the Pilbara in 2013, which covers BHP and Rio Tinto mine workers.