Rio Tinto honoured for its commitment to Western Cape reconciliation

31 May 2018

Rio Tinto has been honoured at the 2018 Queensland Reconciliation Awards for its commitment to partnering with Traditional Owners on Cape York and its beyond ‘business as usual’ approach to reconciliation which is seeing positive outcomes for both business and local communities.

At the awards ceremony on Wednesday evening in Cairns, Rio Tinto was named winner of the Business category acknowledging its long history of working with Traditional Owners to develop employment and training opportunities, protect and manage cultural heritage and foster community development outcomes that support diversification beyond mining.

Rio Tinto Weipa Operations general manager, Daniel van der Westhuizen said "We recognise that our mines operate on traditional land and that a true partnership approach with Traditional Owners is essential to building a sustainable future for the region.

"Diversity through our workforce with 25 per cent Indigenous participation, of which 13 per cent are from one of the 12 Traditional Owner Groups signatory to our agreements, has seen our business grow from strength to strength. That connection to country and culture is underpinned in all areas of operating, including development of the Amrun project."

Specific initiatives include working alongside local communities to ensure supportive work environments that promote cross-cultural understanding, cultural camps on country, Welcome to Country ceremonies for employees, mine blocks being named in traditional language, weekend activities on country and a co-designed area at the village accommodation used to celebrate culture and history.

Western Cape Communities Trust chief executive, Geoff Fahey said "Signing of the Western Cape Communities Co-existence Agreement was a landmark moment for the Western Cape 17 years ago. Through our partnership we have been able to develop a sustainable trust base which is supporting the new Achimbun cultural precinct build in Weipa, another new and exciting chapter for Traditional Owners of the Western Cape."

Rio Tinto Weipa Operations includes bauxite mines at East Weipa and Andoom as well as the under construction A$2.6 billion Amrun Project development which is expected to continue employment opportunities for local Aboriginal and Indigenous people for decades to come.

At the end of 2017, Rio Tinto’s Indigenous workforce across the Western Cape reached 574 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people including 244 local Aboriginal people. The workforce was bolstered by onsite construction jobs at the Amrun Project and local recruitment roadshows encouraging employment directly from nearby Indigenous communities.

The Queensland Reconciliation Awards program recognises businesses, community organisations, educational institutions and partnerships that are taking positive steps towards reconciliation across Queensland.

The awards are an initiative of the Queensland Government through the Department of the Premier and Cabinet, and the Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships.