Indigenous businesses win Rio Tinto contracts

22 May 2017

Rio Tinto has contracted three Pilbara Aboriginal businesses to provide grounds maintenance and cleaning services at its iron ore operations, in a move that will provide local companies with security and opportunities to expand.

Rio Tinto Iron Ore chief executive Chris Salisbury said the contracts signified Rio Tinto’s commitment to local jobs and economic development in regional WA, particularly with Aboriginal businesses.

Mr Salisbury said the long-term contracts would offer a security boost and enable the businesses to plan well into the future.

"Pilbara Aboriginal businesses are an important part of our community and we are happy to see them bid effectively and successfully for work with Rio Tinto.

"The five year tenure, with options to extend, will give these businesses peace of mind, better security in a fluid market and a springboard to expand their services into the future," he said.

In May, Rio Tinto awarded a facilities management contract to Pilbara Aboriginal business, Pindari, to service nine West Australian mine sites.

The contract extends to Rio Tinto’s cleaning, grounds maintenance and other associated services at Hope Downs, Brockman, Yandicoogina, West Angelas and Robe Valley.

Earlier this year Rio Tinto contracted two other Aboriginal businesses – Brida Pty Ltd to service port and rail operations and Pilbara Aboriginal Investments Pty Ltd to service Tom Price, Marandoo and Paraburdoo.

Mr Salisbury said 77 per cent of Rio Tinto’s local procurement was with WA suppliers and the company had spent almost $57 billion with local businesses over the past seven years.

It comes as Rio Tinto announced it would set up a dedicated procurement team to work with local businesses and a web portal to advise of upcoming contracts to allow more WA businesses to lodge their interest for future work.

Rio Tinto will also host a series of local procurement workshops in the Pilbara and Perth where information on the company’s forward procurement plans will be shared.

"This is an important investment in the future of our business and the future of WA that will help establish economic independence for Aboriginal people in the regions," Mr Salisbury said.

"We want to ensure we are doing all we can to generate economic development in regional WA. This is about delivering local opportunities for local people."

Pindari employs 110 workers, with a 30 per cent indigenous representation, and has supplied labour, electrical and minor building works services to Rio Tinto for several years at mine sites in WA’s East Pilbara region.

Pindari executive director Natalie Venosi said the long-term contract with Rio Tinto was the culmination of 20 years of Pindari delivering high quality, commercially competitive solutions to the mining and offshore oil and gas sectors.

"Pindari has provided services to Rio Tinto since 2008, starting out with a handful of tradespeople in infrastructure maintenance to winning multiple accommodation refurbishment contracts, landscaping and building projects.

"We have proven our capability over the years and helped pioneer a relationship with Rio Tinto that led to an exciting Aboriginal business engagement initiative, now resulting in Pindari’s first long term contract opportunity, she said."