Rio Tinto Weipa wins QRC ‘Best Company’ Indigenous employment award

29 May 2017

Rio Tinto’s Weipa bauxite mine has won the ‘Best Company Indigenous Employment and Training Initiative’ award at the Queensland Resources Council (QRC) Indigenous Awards, which were held in Brisbane in conjunction with National Reconciliation Week.

Lee Darvell, Rio Tinto Weipa’s superintendent, Indigenous Employment & Development, was also awarded Highly Commended in the overall category for ‘Exceptional Indigenous Person’.

Lee was recognised for her dedicated work fostering strong relationships with Traditional Owners who are signatory to the operation’s Aboriginal Agreements, and overseeing the business’ Indigenous employment and development initiatives.

"I’m so proud of the work we do creating employment opportunities for Local Aboriginal People and feel fortunate to be in a position where I can help make such a positive contribution," Lee said.

Rio Tinto Weipa Operations general manager Dan van der Westhuizen said "We’re working in partnership with Traditional Owners to deliver successful employment and retention programmes for Indigenous people in the Western Cape region.

"Indigenous Australians now represent a record 27 per cent of our workforce, and local Aboriginal employment has increased from 12 per cent to 16 per cent. This helps ensure that Local Aboriginal people continue to play a strong role in our business and to position the broader Western Cape region for a sustainable future," Dan said.

Rio Tinto Weipa’s Indigenous Employment and Training Strategy defines its long-term sustainable commitment to increasing the participation, retention and advancement of Local Aboriginal people. The QRC award recognised the successful delivery of the strategy – including development, inclusion, diversity and school to work pathways.

Rio Tinto Aluminium’s Pacific Operations managing director Bruce Cox said "We are delighted that the strategy has improved the culture and collaboration between Rio Tinto Weipa and its community partners, including representatives of the Aboriginal Agreements involved.

"Since inception of the strategy, a quarter of the site workforce has been consistently represented by Indigenous or Local Aboriginal people. This positive shift can be directly attributed to the hard work and dedication of the Indigenous Employment and Development Team. Well done to all involved," Bruce said.

Rio Tinto was also Highly Commended in the ‘Best Company Indigenous Procurement Award’ for its work setting objectives to maximise Indigenous business and employment opportunities and expectations for contractors at the world class Amrun bauxite project.

The QRC Indigenous Awards promote and celebrate leading practice Indigenous participation achievements in the resources sector while advocating the industry as a career option for Indigenous people.

About Lee Darvell

Lee is a superintendent, Indigenous Employment & Development at Rio Tinto Weipa.

She is a strong advocate for Indigenous advancement in the resources industry and is continuously looking for opportunities for Local Aboriginal and Indigenous people to take up employment within the mining operations.

Lee holds a Bachelor of Teaching and was nominated by the Australian Government to be a part of their Education Ambassador programme from 2011 – 2013. She is a passionate and innovative leader of her team which has 60 per cent Indigenous representation. One of her key focuses is on continuing to develop individual Indigenous leadership capability within her team and across the business resulting in more Local Aboriginal and Indigenous Australians taking on professional and leadership roles. She has worked across product groups with Rio Tinto in Australia to actively promote Indigenous employment and development programmes and share learnings.

Her passion also extends to the community, where she is an active advocate for cancer awareness, domestic violence, valuing diversity, and encouraging non-traditional roles for women.