Agreement between WA Gov and Rio Tinto to create new jobs
Hundreds of new jobs will be created for indigenous Australians in the Pilbara under a landmark agreement between the Western Australian State Government and Rio Tinto Iron Ore, according to the State’s Development Minster, Eric Ripper.Mr Ripper, who will sign a Memorandum of Understanding with Rio Tinto Iron Ore’s chief executive Sam Walsh this month, said the agreement could create jobs for up to 300 indigenous workers.“This agreement commits both parties to a range of employment and enterprise initiatives,” Mr Ripper said. “It will significantly strengthen future training, business and job opportunities for the local indigenous community. “Mining operations are expanding in the Pilbara and we need to ensure indigenous people and traditional owners benefit from this development. Through a joint approach by RTIO, indigenous people in the Pilbara and the State Government, we will create as many jobs as possible.”The Minister said the agreement would focus on ensuring the right education, training and employment pathways were in place so that indigenous people had the necessary skills required in the mining and services industries. The agreement also commits to establishing contracting opportunities between RTIO and indigenous-owned businesses, as well as enabling an indigenous-owned mine rehabilitation enterprise that acknowledges the traditional owners’ strong interest in the remediation of their land as mine closures occur. Mr Walsh described the agreement as a milestone in indigenous involvement in the resources boom, which was largely being driven by the iron ore industry in the Pilbara. “It is vital that the traditional owners and indigenous people of the Pilbara not only participate in and enjoy the benefits of this extraordinary activity, but that they become better equipped to control their destiny long after mining has ceased,” Mr Walsh said. “It is clear we need more than a ‘business as usual’ approach, and that no one company or organisation alone can achieve what is necessary. If together we can deliver greater and sustainable indigenous participation (individual, family and community) in the Pilbara economy, we will have achieved a great deal. “By securing ongoing employment with RTIO, its contractors, or other organisations, as well as through greater retention of young people in schools, through to university or other training, they will have the choices denied to previous generations.” The agreement will identify up to 300 new indigenous workers from the Pilbara and elsewhere to join RTIO’s operations in a range of occupations by 2010. RTIO’s operations already use more than 500 indigenous workers across WA, including 70 currently undergoing training or apprenticeship programs.Rio Tinto and the Department of Industry Resources will collaborate on pre-employment and job-based training programs to ensure recruits are job-ready and properly supported once they start. Mr Ripper said the department had successfully piloted indigenous pre-employment training programs for the resources sector during the past 12 months in partnership with TAFE and private training providers.The MOU builds upon the Eastern Guruma Indigenous Land Use Agreement.