Investing Local in Western Australia
Meet some of our pioneering partners in Western Australia
Western Australia has been an important part of our history for more than 50 years. From pioneering the industry’s largest fleet of autonomous trucks to building one of the world’s largest robots – we could not do any of that without the local businesses we call our supply partners.
So to our over 2,000 suppliers based in Western Australia – some of whom have been working with us for many decades – we say thank you.
Meet some of the local businesses behind our Western Australian operations:
Tim and his team at 4CDA love data. And that's lucky for us, because we have a lot.
4CDA uses information we collect about things like production and shipments – even the weather – to create predictive models that help us maximise productivity and minimise risk.
And now this Western Australia-based business is expanding internationally, working on the planning and execution of the Oyu Tolgoi underground copper mine in Mongolia.
“Working with Rio Tinto has created the opportunity for us to employ many young people straight from Australia’s leading universities,” says Tim, 4CDA’s Managing Director.
“The partnership has been great for our tech-savvy graduates, to get them into the workforce and develop business critical skills of the future.”
Astron Environmental Services
For the past 25 years, the team at Astron Environmental Services have helped us protect plants and animals in the areas where we’re working.
A hallmark of the partnership has been working together to trial new approaches and technologies – such as drones, satellite imagery and remote sensing analysis. And by working with Astron, we’re able to benefit from the knowledge of local scientists who are experts in the region.
“Our job is to help Rio Tinto mine in the most sustainable way possible,” says Stuart, General Manager at Astron.
“We do biological surveys before mining activity commences to identify and conserve areas of significant environmental value, and then we conduct monitoring to minimise the impacts on plant and animal communities during mining.
“Rio Tinto’s support helps drive innovation in environmental services in Western Australia and allows us to continue to build our team and capability.”
When your operations span thousands of kilometres, you need partners like Aviair corporate air charter services, based in Karratha. We know we’re in safe hands when the friendly and professional Aviair crew greet us at the airstrip. And they’re multi-award winners too.
"At a moment’s notice we can provide an aviation solution," says Lance, a pilot and Karratha local.
We’re proud that working with us means that people like Lance can do what they love, where they love.
Brida was founded by culturally strong, hard-working men in the 1970s who rejected “sit-down money” (welfare) and instead forged careers and a proud company with local industry. Starting with little more than an old Buick ute and a few lawnmowers, today Brida is still led by local Aboriginal leaders but boasts a fleet of equipment and a 150-strong, award-winning team – 65% of whom are Aboriginal people. Brida provides facility maintenance, equipment hire and engineering services to local industry and government. They’ve been delivering high-quality services in a strong partnership with our Pilbara iron ore sites for over two decades.
Brida is focused on creating careers that deliver self-determination and pride for Pilbara people: “Our work with Rio Tinto provides strong and stable careers for local people and also enables the business to invest directly back into our community of Roebourne,” says Susan Shirtliff, chief executive officer of Brida and its parent company, Ngarliyarndu Bindirri Aboriginal Corporation.
“I love my job,” says Cameron, a machinist (and self-confessed inventor) at Camco Engineering.
“These jobs don’t come with instructions on how to do it. They give you the job, you get a tape measure and you’ve got to make it work. That’s what I like about it – you can really get stuck in and find new ways to do things.”
Coming up with specially tailored solutions to engineering challenges – like streamlining complex manufacturing processes and improving asset reliability – is what Camco is known for. And we are big fans of their innovative spirit – in fact, we have been working with them for around 25 years.
“The Rio Tinto contract underpins a huge proportion of our work here,” says Camco general manager Jonathan Wigley.
“We’ve been able to develop some bespoke engineering services that satisfy their needs, and in turn, we’ve developed our people and our capabilities.”
Minprovise, which specialises in maintaining fixed plant mining equipment, has worked with us since 2007. The company now employs 680 people and works across all of our Pilbara mine sites. Tony Sutton, Minprovise’s general manager, says the benefits of buying local is not limited to employment – it creates other opportunities in the community.
“When we have a contract and we employ five people, those five people have kids and they send them to the local school,” says Tony.
“They shop at the local supermarket – that supermarket now needs more people.
“The flow-on effects from us being able to do work for Rio Tinto mean we’re better able to continue supporting the community.”
North West Alliance
“It’s important for Rio Tinto to buy local because it’s really about investing in the futures of families in the Pilbara, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal,” says Blaze Kwaymullina, a Palyku Traditional Owner and director of Pilbara waste management business North West Alliance.
“Without that kind of investment, we won’t be able to create the kind of future that needs to happen in the region.”
For the past two years, North West Alliance has had the big job of managing different waste streams from a number of our Pilbara sites. They also sub-contract parts of their waste management services to small Indigenous businesses, helping them to train their employees and grow.
Onsite Rental Group
We have been working with Onsite Rental Group’s Perth and Pilbara teams for over 10 years, where they supply specialist equipment such as lighting towers, generators, welders, and forklifts.
Onsite Rental Group employs more than 450 people and offers around 70,000 pieces of equipment for hire ranging from tooling to large excavators. “The recent contract we’ve secured with Rio Tinto has given us the ability to expand our operations within the Pilbara region,” says Darren Brown, General Manager, Western Region for Onsite Rental Group.
“It means an enhanced fleet capacity, more equipment and also additional people with opportunities for employment within the Pilbara region.”
Pilbara Aboriginal Investments
Since 2017 the Pilbara Aboriginal Investments (PAI) team has been helping us with everything from managing our facilities to drill and blast work.
“It’s important to give more opportunities to Aboriginal-owned businesses – and to learn about our business as well,” says Tanya, PAI’s Managing Director.
“We have a lot of young people joining the business, succeeding and then going on to other avenues like traineeships.
“There are lots of challenges we have to face; challenges actually make you strong.
“That’s my journey – challenging how we can help improve opportunities for Aboriginal people and businesses.”
REFAP – Real Employment for Aboriginal People – manages our accommodation facilities at Dampier, in the Pilbara, and provides career opportunities for Indigenous people in the mining industry – and beyond.
“REFAP is a stepping stone for single parents, early school leavers, and people who have been unemployed,” says REFAP operations manager, Christie.
“We’re helping upskill people, not just for the mining industry – it’s also helping them go into hospitality, retail and the labour market.”
Using virtual reality, Viewpoint have created a hydraulically-powered, futuristic pod that takes people on a joy flight through our Iron Ore operations. It means you can skip the super-early-morning flights because with Viewport’s help, we’re bringing the Pilbara to you.
“It’s a way for people to learn about Rio Tinto’s operations but without having to travel to go all the way to the Pilbara,” says Julius, Viewport’s Director and co-founder.
“It’s really important for companies like Rio Tinto to engage with small businesses like ours to help breathe life into the creative and software communities in Perth.”
Yurra has a pretty big job – they are responsible for providing civil maintenance services on 1,800km of our Pilbara rail network, helping make sure our iron ore can get from our mines to the port for shipping. The company is majority owned by all Yindjibarndi People, and was founded in 2013 to create training and career opportunities for the local communities. Today Yurra employs 130 people – 90% are locals, and around 50% are Indigenous people. In 2019 we announced a multi-year and multi-million dollar contract with Yurra, which is creating 20 new jobs as well as training opportunities.
“We’re committed to working with local Indigenous people,” says Liam, Yurra’s managing director. “Whether that’s through employment and training or helping them build their experience and a long-term career path.”