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4 Tips for Navigating Legal Situations in the Mining Industry

For those in the mining industry, especially entry-level workers, a lawyer is probably the last person they want to interact with. While law and mining are two professions that are seemingly on opposite ends of the spectrum, it’s actually important that miners establish good relationships with lawyers. This can help when you run into snags relating to contracts, payments or anything else.

On the latest episode of the Full Production podcast, I met up with WA-based lawyer Müge Ozcan, a Turkish-Australian whose humble upbringing in the suburbs of Sydney inspired her to become a lawyer — while many of her childhood friends ended up on the wrong side of the law. As someone who is quite knowledgeable of the mining industry and has been living in WA for more than ten years, Müge was kind enough to share some of her top tips for miners when interacting with lawyers and navigating the law field in general.

Be Clear, Open And Honest

When involved in a legal situation, plenty of problems occur because people haven’t asked enough questions at the beginning. Miners are a reserved crowd, and they would often rather stay quiet than risk seeming ignorant or eager. But this isn’t a good approach, says Müge. It’s important that you establish rapport with your lawyer and the other party in any dispute or discussion. so that there is an open and comfortable environment. Then, both sides will feel alright asking questions and avoiding the pitfalls that come with being misinformed.

Do Your Research

Don’t go blind into a legal situation. Make a smart investment in understanding the documents you are going to sign by engaging a lawyer who can help you do research. That way, if things go bad, you can fall back on the documents and legal framework. While it’s certainly the lawyer’s job to understand all of the fine print, it’s still incredibly helpful if you can follow what’s going on.

Establish Good Relationships With Your Employers (and Employees)

If you’re an employee, avoid hairy HR situations by keeping a clear line of communication with your managers. If you don’t know something, then ask. This is typically where problems lie; people keep their problems to themselves and resentment builds. On the flipside, as an employer, it’s your job to make sure you are giving clear and open directions to people. Address your employees’ performance on a regular basis, and if there are any issues, be upfront about them.

Be Proactive, Not Reactive

Müge told me that the main thing that worries her in the mining industry is people’s reactive mindset. They are all too likely to avoid planning for the future and say, “I’ll fix the problem when it arises.” However, they are then smacked with high legal costs that could’ve been avoided if they had thought ahead. One example is having a will. Writing one early can prevent any nasty disagreements in the future.

Realize That Legal Fees Are An Investment

Nobody likes paying lawyers. But things happen, and it’s sometimes a necessity. While you’ve worked hard for your money (especially if you’re a miner), you need to realise that sometimes spending money on legal fees can be an investment. Putting some money towards consulting a lawyer on a contract, for example, could save you the exorbitant fees you might have to spend if things go awry later.

A lawyer as someone who will help you protect your future and that’s always worth the investment.

Listen to my entire conversation with Müge here.