Rio Tinto has launched its second Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP), which outlines how it will build deeper engagement between Indigenous communities and Rio Tinto operations around Australia during the next three years.

The Group is the first resources company to obtain an Elevate RAP, the highest possible phase achievable in Reconciliation Australia’s RAP programme.

Rio Tinto’s 2016-2019 RAP raises the bar on the Group’s previous commitments, and sets stretch targets across areas such as Indigenous employment, education and training, and business development

Justin Mohamad, chief executive officer of Reconciliation Australia, said Rio Tinto has a strong track record of following through with its RAP commitments and building meaningful partnerships with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and communities.

“In adopting an Elevate RAP, Rio Tinto joins an elite group of organisations that have taken reconciliation beyond ‘business as usual’ and embedded it in the delivery of core business practices and decision-making at the highest level,” Justin said.

Andrew Harding, Rio Tinto’s chief executive, Iron Ore, Australia, China and Korea, said the 2016-2019 RAP resets the bar for the Group’s reconciliation commitment in Australia.

“We have a unique opportunity to play a role in matters of national importance. Australia’s reconciliation and recognition journey is one of these matters, about which we are resolutely committed and proud to be a part,” Andrew said.

Rio Tinto joins an elite group of organisations that have taken reconciliation beyond "business as usual"

Justin Mohamad, chief executive officer of Reconciliation Australia

Past achievements

In the early 1990s, Rio Tinto broke with convention as the first miner to grasp the spirit of reconciliation and move to apply Australia’s newly introduced Native Title Act.

Since then, the Group has actively partnered with Indigenous Australians and now has 35 agreements in place covering its Australian exploration and operation activities. Among these is the Argyle participation agreement, which set a new agreement-making benchmark in Australia when it was signed in 2004

While the 2016-2019 RAP intends to elevate Rio Tinto’s commitments, the Group has already achieved significant outcomes, including:

  • Contributing more than A$1.1 billion in Traditional Owner beneficiary payments through agreements across Australia.
  • Spending more than A$3 billion directly with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses and their joint ventures in the past five years.
  • Employing 1,600 permanent Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Australia.
  • Joining the national “Recognise” campaign, which seeks to formally recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in the Australian constitution.

The next horizon

Rio Tinto’s 2016-2019 RAP was developed through formal meetings with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and input from internal team members.

It includes a range of new and existing commitments aimed at building respectful relationships and creating opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, such as:

  • Increasing the total national percentage of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people employed by Rio Tinto in Australia from approximately 7.3 per cent (as at 31 December 2015) to eight per cent by December 2019
  • Establishing an Australian Rio Tinto Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employee representative panel by December 2017, to participate in RAP monitoring and delivery.