Rio Tinto's Indigenous workforce reaches 574 across Cape York

25 January 2018

Rio Tinto’s Indigenous workforce has now reached 574 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, including 244 local Aboriginal people, across its Cape York bauxite sites in Far North Queensland.

The workforce has been bolstered by onsite construction jobs at the A$2.6 billion Amrun Project development and includes workers from existing Weipa Operations’ East Weipa and Andoom mines.

The increase reinforces Rio Tinto’s commitment to providing employment opportunities for local Aboriginal people as agreed under three land use agreements signed with 12 Traditional Owner Groups in the area.

Rio Tinto Weipa Operations general manager Daniel van der Westhuizen said "We recognise our mines operate on traditional land and our strong Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workforce is a reflection of this.

"We continue to provide opportunities and employment pathways for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to ensure the benefits of our business are shared and contribute to sustainable community development.

"Rio Tinto is dedicated to working in partnership with our signatory Traditional Owner Groups and communities in Aurukun, Napranum, Mapoon and Northern Peninsula Area to collectively provide employment opportunities for local Aboriginal people."

Paid work experience, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) activities, apprenticeships and school based traineeships are all methods used to increase Indigenous employment, participation and retention at the sites.

Western Cape Communities Trust executive officer Geoffrey Fahey said "The Western Cape Communities Co-Existence Agreement (WCCCA) was signed some 16 years ago. A key aspiration of local Traditional Owner Groups that are signatories to the agreement is sustainable long term employment for local Aboriginal People.

"The agreement underpins the relationship with Rio Tinto to achieve this and other key aspirations. As such we work closely with Rio Tinto in a spirit of togetherness to develop as many employment opportunities as possible."

Local Aboriginal participation at the Amrun Project has been boosted by recruitment roadshows held in mid-2017 across the key Indigenous communities in the region.

Contractors moving on from the Amrun Project in its post construction phase can participate in an Amrun Upskilling Programme developed with a focus on supporting future career aspirations of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees.

A wider focus for the Amrun Project to support the regional economy and employment from Queensland has been a priority in recruitment of its construction workforce.

Once completed the Amrun Project will provide jobs, support business development and contribute to socio-economic growth in Cape York region for the next 50 years.

About the Amrun Project

Rio Tinto announced its A$2.6 billion investment in the Amrun Project in late 2015. The project is about 40 kilometres south of Rio Tinto’s existing East Weipa and Andoom mines on the Cape York Peninsula in far north Queensland and involves the construction of a bauxite mine, processing and port facilities.

Production and shipping are expected to commence in the first half of 2019, ramping up to full production by the end of the year.

Over 1,000 workers are now working on the construction of the site having peaked at 1,250 in the fourth quarter of 2017. Once operational, Amrun will help to support ongoing employment for the existing workforce of around 1,400 employees and contractors at Rio Tinto’s Cape York bauxite operations.

Rio Tinto has a long history of partnering with Traditional Owners on Cape York. Amrun Project will continue creating opportunities for Indigenous people from Cape York and the surrounding region.