Statement on Juukan Gorge: 12 June 2020Rio Tinto will fully cooperate with the Inquiry by the Joint Standing Committee on Northern Australia while also continuing to support the West Australian government in the reform of the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972 (WA). We are committed to engaging with the rest of the industry, Traditional Owner Groups, and federal and state governments across a number of areas relating to cultural heritage approvals and processes, and the broad contribution of the resources sector to Australia.
We are very sorry for the distress we have caused the PKKP in relation to Juukan Gorge and our first priority remains rebuilding trust with the PKKP. Rio Tinto has a long history of working in partnership and creating shared value with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities around our operations and across Australia more broadly. We remain absolutely committed to continuing to do so.
We believe the mining industry has a critical role to play in contributing to the future prosperity of all Australians.
Jean-Sebastien Jacques, Chief Executive
Statement on Juukan Gorge: 31 May 2020We pay our respects to the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura People (PKKP), and we are sorry for the distress we have caused. Our relationship with the PKKP matters a lot to Rio Tinto, having worked together for many years.
We have operated on PKKP country under a comprehensive and mutually agreed Participation Agreement since 2011.
At Juukan, in partnership with the PKKP, we followed a heritage approval process for more than 10 years. In 2014 we performed a large-scale exercise in the Juukan area to preserve significant cultural heritage artefacts, recovering approximately 7,000 objects.
We will continue to work with the PKKP to learn from what has taken place and strengthen our partnership. As a matter of urgency, we are reviewing the plans of all other sites in the Juukan Gorge area.
From a broader perspective, as we already work within all existing frameworks, we will launch a comprehensive review of our heritage approach, engaging Traditional Owners to help identify, understand and recommend ways to improve the process.
Three decades ago we were the first mining company to recognise native title. Today we also recognise that a review is needed in relation to the management of heritage in Western Australia more broadly, and we will advocate where relevant for legislative reform.
The mining industry supports all Australians by providing jobs, supporting small business, and paying taxes and royalties. We remain committed to doing so in a way that provides economic development opportunities and facilitates the preservation and sharing of traditional culture.
As a company with strong ties and a long history of partnership with Indigenous Australians we are committed to updating our practices and working together so that we can co-exist for mutual benefit.
Chris Salisbury, Chief Executive, Iron Ore
Statement on Juukan Gorge: 27 May 2020
Working with the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura PeopleRio Tinto takes cultural heritage and partnerships with Traditional Owner groups very seriously. We were the first mining company in Australia to embrace Traditional Owners’ native title rights and interests, and we have a long history of recognising and working to safeguard areas of cultural significance.
We have had a longstanding relationship with the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura People for over two decades and have been working together on the Juukan area since 2003, which includes having secured the necessary approvals for mining activity in consultation with the PKKP.
Chief Executive, Iron Ore
The PKKP and Rio Tinto signed a comprehensive native title and heritage agreement in 2011, providing for ongoing engagement as well as financial and non-financial benefits to the PKKP for mining activities on their country.
The mining activity conducted in May 2020 was undertaken in accordance with all necessary approvals. It was preceded by a ministerial consent under Section 18 of the Aboriginal Heritage Act. This was obtained in 2013 after detailed consultation with the PKKP people over a decade that included research investigations in 2008 under a Section 16 authorisation. Following the Section 18 consent extensive heritage preservation and salvage work was undertaken in 2014, all with PKKP involvement.
With the approval of the PKKP, the preserved artefacts have been deposited at a Rio Tinto storage facility to ensure appropriate protection of the material and we are working with the PKKP on longer-term options. We have continued to work closely and collaboratively with the PKKP on a range of heritage matters, including operations in the Juukan area, and have modified our operations to avoid cultural and heritage impacts. From 2014, the PKKP and Rio Tinto continued dialogue on the Juukan region, including discussion on the findings from the specialist studies that were conducted on the excavated materials. This included a site visit to the Brockman 4 operations with PKKP people in 2019.
We proceeded with our operations at Brockman 4 in reliance of our comprehensive agreement with the PKKP and having all necessary approvals and consents.
We are sorry that the recently expressed concerns of the PKKP did not arise through the engagements that have taken place over many years under the agreement that governs our operations on their country. To support thorough engagement on these issues, we have a range of formal avenues in place, which go beyond legal requirements. These activities support ongoing dialogue and engagement to occur as part of these processes on cultural heritage.
We will continue to work with the PKKP, Traditional Owner groups, government and industry on reform in this area.
Cultural Heritage Partnerships
As part of our heritage programme, we partner with relevant Indigenous representative organisations, professional bodies and academic institutions to conduct research and analysis of significant sites.
We are proud to partner with the Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation and the University of Western Australia in ongoing investigations and management of rock art, including a major research programme, Murujuga: Dynamics of the Dreaming, and in an annual field school on the Burrup Peninsula near Dampier. This gives students and Indigenous rangers an opportunity to work together in the identification, recording and management of the significant rock art in this area.
Learn more about the programme >
We know we have more to do.
Supporting Indigenous Businesses
We are working with more than 140 Indigenous businesses in the Pilbara, in Western Australia, to help build capacity and become Rio Tinto suppliers. In 2019, we awarded more than A$42 million to nearly 50 Pilbara Indigenous-owned businesses to help develop Koodaideri – our most technologically advanced mine, as well as a landmark A$14 million contract to Yurra Pty Ltd., which is majority owned by the Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation, to provide civil maintenance services on and around our Pilbara rail network.
Land Agreements: the Regional Framework Deed
Since 2011, following the execution of the participation agreements, Traditional Owner groups were given the opportunity to opt into the regional framework deed (RFD). To date, eight Traditional Owner groups that have entered into agreements with us have opted in to the RFD. The RFD provides a framework for Rio Tinto and Traditional Owner groups to work together to address joint commitments aligned to the following seven regional standards:
- Aboriginal Employment and Training
- Aboriginal Business Development and Contracting
- Cultural Heritage Management
- Environmental Management
- Life of Mine Planning
- Land Access
- Cultural Awareness Training
The Regional Implementation Committee (RIC), provides our company and Traditional Owner opt-in groups with a forum to address joint commitments within the Aboriginal Employment and Training and Aboriginal Business Development and Contracting regional standards. The RIC also advocates for regional economic participation and development of Aboriginal communities across the Pilbara.
Working Together, Staying Apart
Daniel is a mining engineer at our Marandoo iron ore mine in the Pilbara, Western Australia. Here’s how his team is using technology to stay apart and stay safe.
“I’m a mining engineer on site at Marandoo, but my job is as much about working with people as machines. So, like everyone, I’ve had to rethink the way I work in response to COVID-19.
We have some engineers that work remotely, and so our team thought: ‘what can we learn from them?’
It made us focus on how we were using technology. For some reason Pac-Man came to mind. I think it’s because, just like Pac-Man eating all the dots in its path, we need to get and use as many of the technology options we have available. We are constantly asking ourselves – do we really need to be physically present to do this? How can we use technology to do it more safely and efficiently?
One example of what we’ve done is the ramp-up of our drone flights – we’re now doing them daily. We’re also using our mine pit cameras more to monitor progress, and give us up to date information. That means we need to visit the mine less in person.
Our health and safety teams have been busy putting other safeguards in place around site: all our rooms have been measured and marked out so we know the maximum number of people that can be in an area at one time. And we have crosses marked on the floor too to help us keep a safe distance when we are in the room.
We’re doing ‘hazard hunts’ to find ways we can improve, and we’re learning from other teams too. I think it’s up to us, all of us, to change the way we do things – so we can all make a difference.”
Counselling programme extended to regional WA communities
18 May 2020 Update
Our mental health and support services offered to employees will be extended to assist communities, local suppliers and contractors as part of the company’s COVID-19 relief package in Western Australia.
Available immediately, the private and confidential Rio Tinto Employee Assistance Programme (EAP), provided by counselling service BSS, will be expanded to support:
Members of Rio Tinto’s host communities in Wickham, Roebourne, Karratha, Dampier, Point Samson, Port Hedland, Tom Price, Paraburdoo, Carnarvon, Nyangumarta, Martu, Kununurra, Wyndham and Warmun
Category 2 and 3 contractors
Direct family members who reside in the same residence as any of the above
Counselling will be offered to those experiencing situations such as stress, depression, anxiety, relationship problems, addiction (alcohol and drug use), conflict management, anger management, sleep and fatigue problems, family and domestic violence, loss and grief, and unresolved trauma.
The initiative complements our broader support package for regional Western Australian communities including a combined A$2 million to the Shire of Ashburton and the City of Karratha to support their COVID-19 response and relief measures.
Cecile Thaxter, our vice president Health, Safety & Environment said, “The COVID-19 crisis has been a difficult time for people in our workforce and communities, and the impact this can have on mental health and wellbeing should not be underestimated.
“Community feedback suggests the counselling services we offer our staff would also be a valuable support mechanism for people connected to our company in other ways, and we are pleased to now offer this assistance more broadly.”
The BSS counselling service, which is private and confidential, is available to these groups for the next six months and can be accessed by contacting BSS direct on 1800 30 30 90, visiting www.bsspsych.com.au, or via the BSS EAP app.
Supporting WA jobs as COVID-19 recovery phase ramps up
14 May 2020 Update
Our iron ore business in Western Australia is continuing to recruit for skilled roles, apprentices, graduates and Aboriginal trainees to fill vacancies as we progress our development plans in the Pilbara.
There are more than 300 jobs currently available including skilled operational and maintenance roles such as frontline supervisors, experienced operators of excavators, haul trucks and graders as well as experienced maintenance staff such as heavy diesel fitters. The roles are a mix of fly-in fly-out from Perth and the company’s regional hubs in Western Australia as well as residential positions in Perth and the Pilbara.
We are maintaining our commitment to the development of skills for the future through the hiring of around 160 apprentices, graduates and Aboriginal trainees from the Pilbara, Perth and other regional centres. The 2020 intake of apprentices and graduates is up 25 per cent from last year with gender diversity also significantly increased.
On top of this recruitment effort, our medical provider for COVID-19 screening at Perth Airport has recently hired more than 100 staff including out of work nurses.
Chris Salisbury, Chief Executive of our iron ore business said “Throughout this challenging period we are committed to keeping our people and our communities safe and supporting Western Australians with employment opportunities to help deliver on our plan to invest A$10 billion in the Pilbara over the next three years. This will help ensure we can continue to operate while making a strong contribution to the State and national economies.”
In addition to our direct employment opportunities, we remain committed to skills development for current and future workers in the resources industry.
To allow apprentices and trainees to enhance their qualifications, we have committed funding toward the upskilling of out of work apprentices across various industries by covering their fees for a course in automation. This will allow for the enrolment of up to 200 apprentices who have had their apprenticeships suspended or cancelled due to COVID-19.
Successful applicants will complete the recently accredited micro credential Course in Working Effectively in an Automated Environment qualification, which we developed in partnership with South Metropolitan TAFE (SM TAFE) and the Western Australian Government last year. SM TAFE is leading plans to double the intake in the future through expansion to regional TAFEs.
SM TAFE Managing Director Terry Durant said “Working alongside Rio Tinto on this important initiative, SM TAFE will be delivering future-focussed skills to Western Australian apprentices during a critical time in our economic recovery.”
Chris Salisbury said, “We believe this is an important time for Rio Tinto to deliver on skills for those apprentices and trainees whose future employment prospects would benefit from extra training. Our strong partnership with SM TAFE and regional TAFEs in Western Australia will increase the number of apprentices in the State with the skills and knowledge to work in an automated environment, thereby increasing the likelihood of their employment in the resources sector.”
6,000 litres of hand cleaning products donated to remote communities
7 May 2020 Update
To help combat the spread of COVID-19 in remote communities in Western Australia, Northern Territory and Queensland, we have partnered with Perth-based freight and logistics provider Matic Transport to donate 6,000 litres of hand cleaning products.
The recipients are communities in the Pilbara, (Roebourne, Tom Price, Pannawonica, Paraburdoo), and the Kimberley, as well as communities in Queensland (Weipa) and Northern Territory (Nhulunbuy and West Arnhem).
The supplies of anti-bacterial and anti-viral hand cleaning products recently departed Perth on a 15,000 kilometre journey across the top of the country thanks to Matic Transport who have donated their time and freight services to distribute the products.
We sourced the anti-bacterial and anti-viral hand cleaning products from a local family-owned Western Australian manufacturer based in Perth. We are seeking to source additional supplies to continue to support remote communities.
Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation chief executive officer Peter Jeffries, who received 1,000 litres of donated sanitizer in Roebourne on behalf of the local community, said, “We approached our industry partners for support given Aboriginal communities were identified as vulnerable people, particularly our elderly and our members who suffer from chronic health issues.
“It will be very important for our members to receive this donation of anti-bacterial hand-cleaning soap to help contain the spread of the virus in the community. I’d like to thank Rio Tinto for the donation.”
Chris Salisbury, Chief Executive of our iron ore business said, “The health and safety of our people and communities continues to be our number one priority. We are supporting a wide range of initiatives like this which are designed to help these communities respond and recover from the challenges presented by COVID-19.
“Together with Matic, we are glad to be helping vulnerable and remote communities in Western Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory, to stay safe.”
Matic Group company director Danny Matic said, “As a family owned business, we are proud to be part of the Rio Tinto family as its core values are closely aligned to our own – Our people. Our Communities. We’re proud to be part of the effort to make available anti-bacterial and anti-viral hand cleaning products to remote indigenous communities, remote hospitals and emergency services.
“Our pledge to communities through our partnership with Rio Tinto Iron Ore is to engage with indigenous communities in a manner that is inclusive, respects rights, culture and everyone’s way of life.”
We also donated more than 600 litres of hand hygiene and cleaning products to Pilbara schools last week to support their safe reopening. A number of schools received the urgent supplies including St Luke’s College, Roebourne District and Karratha Senior High Schools, Dampier, Wickham, St Paul’s and Karratha Primary Schools, Roebourne Early Learning Centre, and One Tree children’s services in Pannawonica.
COVID-19 screening at Western Australian regional airports enhanced
1 May 2020 Update
We are broadening our COVID-19 screening measures in Western Australia by introducing rapid screening for our fly-in-fly-out workforce at Busselton, Geraldton and Albany airports.
The rapid screening, which started at Busselton today and will be rolled out at Geraldton and Albany in coming weeks, will mirror the five-layer rapid COVID-19 process successfully introduced at Perth Airport last month.
Approximately 900 FIFO employees and contractors are expected to commute from Busselton, Geraldton and Albany to operations in the Pilbara every fortnight. Those traveling have been asked to arrive at least 30 minutes before their scheduled departure time to allow for the screening process.
Trained medical staff manage the COVID-19 screening process which is overseen by our occupational physician, who is also overseeing a comprehensive research programme into COVID-19 screening outcomes.
The rapid screening process includes an online and face-to-face health questionnaire, a temperature check and the rapid finger pinprick blood screen to detect viral-related antibodies that is performed by a qualified nurse. The blood sample is not a diagnostic test for COVID-19.
If the blood screen is clear, a coloured wristband is given to confirm the person has been screened and can board their flight. Anyone identified as requiring further testing will not be allowed to depart and will be directed to undertake a diagnostic test for COVID-19 at an approved clinic.
About 100 jobs have been created to help facilitate our screening process at Perth, Busselton, Albany and Geraldton airports. This includes the hiring of out-of-work nurses impacted by restrictions on elective surgery at WA hospitals.
More than 8000 of our FIFO workers and contractors have now been through the rapid COVID-19 screening process since its introduction at Perth Airport last month.
Chris Salisbury, Chief Executive of our iron ore business said, “Our number one priority is to protect the health of our employees and communities where we operate and that’s why we have expanded our screening efforts to include important regional hubs like Busselton.
The broader roll-out of our layered screening process to other regional airports such as Geraldton and Albany will allow us to continue operating safely and, importantly, making a strong contribution to Western Australian communities.
“Since the introduction at Perth Airport last month, rapid screening has proven to be an effective tool enabling the quick identification of people who may be at increased risk of having a viral illness prior to getting on a plane and arriving at a site in the Pilbara.”
Proud to support the Pilbara in time of need
24 April 2020 Update
We are fortunate to be in a position to support the Western Australian community through the COVID-19 crisis, and with a long history in the Pilbara, it is important we play our part to support our host communities as they respond to and recover from the impacts of COVID-19.
This includes our long-term partnerships with the Shire of Ashburton and City of Karratha.
As part of this, and in response to the community’s feedback through Local Voices, we understand the importance to fund initiatives that support community recovery and resilience.
This is why we have contributed A$1 million to the Shire of Ashburton and A$1 million to the City of Karratha to assist with their economic stimulus initiatives and community support.
The funding will focus on building business resilience, driving economic stimulus and supporting community organisations and small businesses in this time of need.
It is important to support regional WA through our contributions in areas critical to the preparedness and response to the pandemic, as well as initiatives to support community recovery and resilience.
We are proud to work with the WA regional community to build community resilience and support COVID-19 recovery efforts.
For more information, email our Community Engagement team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Increased COVID-19 screening measures at Perth Airport
18 April 2020 Update
We have introduced further measures to help combat the spread of COVID-19 in Western Australia following the start of rapid screening trials at Perth Airport.
Alongside screening controls at airports including questionnaires and temperature screening, a range of other controls have already been introduced across our Pilbara operations to help minimise transmission risk. This includes social distancing on planes, buses, camps and in light-vehicles, reduced people on site via a roster change and stronger controls on access to our sites.
We are now increasing screening measures by introducing a trial of COVID-19 rapid screening at Perth Airport and at our nearby Operations Centre. This will form part of an enhanced five-layer screening process designed to keep the community and our workforce safe. This includes:
- A health questionnaire - employees will be asked a series of questions a day prior to travelling to screen for potential exposures to COVID-19, consistent with government restrictions on intra-state travel
- A face-to-face assessment with a nurse at Perth Airport
- Thermal screening – the employee’s temperature is taken via electronic thermometer
- Rapid screening - enables the quick identification of people who may be at increased risk of having a viral illness prior to coming to site
- This requires a small blood sample taken via a finger pinprick to detect viral related antibodies in the individual’s blood
- This screening process is not a test for Covid-19. The detection of any viral-related antibodies requires the individual to self-isolate as a precaution and seek prompt testing at an approved clinic
- Those cleared will receive an access band allowing them to board their flight
Trained medical staff will perform the COVID-19 screening process with oversight by our occupational physician. There will also be oversight of the comprehensive research into the COVID-19 screening outcomes. These new measures reflect our health and safety obligations under applicable Australian legislation.
The intent is for anyone working at our iron ore operations to undergo screening including all FIFO employees and contractors returning to work. Essential staff at our Operations Centre will also be subject to rapid screening.
Chris Salisbury, Chief Executive of our iron ore business, “Our number one priority through this period is to protect the health of our employees and communities where we operate. We believe the introduction of rapid screening adds another layer of control to help prevent the transmission of the virus in WA.
“We are very confident in the veracity of our screening process which we strongly believe is an important tool to reduce risk for our communities and our people. This not only allows us to continue operating safely, which is important for the more than 12,000 people we employ, but it also enables us to continue making a strong contribution to the State’s economy.”
New COVID-19 measures for community safety introduced
6 April 2020 Update
Our iron ore operations in the Pilbara region of Western Australia continue to combat the spread and impacts of COVID-19 by introducing further measures to help protect our employees and the community while keeping our operations running safely.
Last week more than 1,200 employees at two Pilbara sites, Yandicoogina and Greater Brockman Operations, commenced new rosters which have been redesigned to reduce the risk of spreading the virus. Employees will work two weeks on followed by two weeks off, helping to protect both the community and our workforce.
Roster changes at the company’s other sites in the Pilbara, involving more than 3,500 people, are also being rolled out. These changes will reduce the travel frequency in and out of the Pilbara by replacing existing shorter schedules.
To service these changes, we have secured additional charter flights from Qantas and Virgin Australia Airlines to our Pilbara sites, ensuring compliance with social distancing guidelines by spacing workers appropriately on planes, and in airports.
Chris Salisbury, Chief Executive of our iron ore business said “Our number one priority is the health and safety of our people and our communities. We will continue to strengthen measures throughout our operations and at airports to ensure we are doing everything we can to put the health and safety of people first.
These measures mean we can keep our operations running, to ensure we continue delivering products to our customers and making a strong contribution to the Western Australian and Australian economies at a very challenging time.
Recent travel restrictions in to Western Australia have also resulted in changes to our national fly-in fly-out workforce. More than 700 employees with specialist skills have relocated to Perth from interstate or overseas to continue in their role.
Further actions we have taken to support the health and safety of the community and our workforce include:
- From this week, all employees will be screened including temperature checks prior to boarding flights.
- Introduction of site access control measures to manage entry to sites. Each operation will create ‘controlled zones’, where no people movements will occur, unless authorised and screened by site supervisors, other than on designated shift changes.
- Reduced passenger capacity on buses for all high utilisation routes with every second seat tagged out as unavailable. Reduced occupancy in all light-vehicle travel.
- Tightened social distancing measures in village dining rooms and for shift breaks.
- Increased cleaning schedule across a range of facilities.
To date, Rio Tinto has committed an additional US$25 million globally to support community COVID-19 preparedness, response and recovery. This will include donations of hygiene products sourced through the supply chain, as well as supporting funding for local community projects and partnerships.
We have also contributed to the Chamber of Minerals and Energy of Western Australia’s COVID-19 Community Support Initiative to benefit local communities throughout the State.
This initiative will provide a total of A$6.6 million will be distributed between three key WA organisations - Foodbank WA, Lifeline WA and Royal Flying Doctor Service Western Operations (RFDS WO). This builds on the A$15 million commitment we made to the RFDS in February to fund the purchase of WA’s third state-of-the-art Rio Tinto LifeFlight PC-24 jet.
New measures to keep our employees, contractors and partners safe
28 March 2020 Update
There are many things we can and are doing to keep our employees, contractors and partners safe across our iron ore operations in Western Australia. These include the following:
- Demobilising some personnel from sites to reduce the potential health risk of exposure to these people
- Travel restrictions and mandatory isolation requirements for those who have recently travelled or feel unwell
- Pre-screening and temperature testing before flights for all workforce members going to site
- Extended and enhanced emergency response procedures
- Contact tracing and case management procedures, guided by the Department of Health
- On-call service for any of our workforce to return to their home location in the event of a health or family emergency
- Support for vulnerable members of the workforce through leader conversations and special leave
- Changes to bus services in the Pilbara to allow for increased social distancing protocols. This includes mobilising a larger fleet to enable reduced passenger capacity on individual buses, and more regular cleaning of high touch-point areas such as handrails
- Social distancing measures at sites including reduced numbers in dining halls
- Increased working from home arrangements to minimise people’s interactions wherever possible; additional cleaning and sanitation across offices, facilities and shared equipment
- The closure of all bars, indoor gyms and swimming pools at mining camp sites
- Increased focus on personal hygiene practices to stop the spread of COVID-19
We will be introducing additional measures to support our operations including the following:
- COVID-19 screening tests for all of our people flying to site
- Strict protocols for controlling access to our sites stopping any movement other than logistics deliveries
- Working with local towns to build on the existing protocols for social distancing
Fly In, Fly Out (FIFO) and Other Travel
We have halted all non-essential work-related travel, instead asking teams to connect in other ways, such as WebEx or Skype, and most of our office-based teams are working from home.
We have also changed our FIFO roster to protect our people and communities.
We recognise it is a big ask for our people to be away from families on a different roster pattern at short notice and we will do everything we can to support them during these difficult times.
Chris Salisbury - Chief Executive, Iron Ore
At the same time, we continue to introduce further key measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19 such as screening tests for all of our people flying to site; strict protocols for controlling access to our sites stopping any movement other than logistics deliveries; on call service for our workforce to return home for health or family emergencies; new social distancing measures on bus services and at site; additional cleaning for shared facilities and equipment; and the closure of all bars, gyms and pools at mining camp sites. We are also working with local towns, governments and community agencies to build on the existing protocols for social distancing.
In addition, we have instituted additional hygiene practices and cleaning for our FIFO employees. Examples of these include the following:
- Mandatory hygiene practices when entering buses, recreational areas, dining areas etc
- Mandatory cleaning of gym equipment following use (note this applies only to gyms that remain open, per guidelines above)
- Additional cleaning and disinfection regimes focussing on high touch point areas, recreational, dining and crib areas etc
- Good hand and sneeze/cough hygiene and provide hand sanitising/washing facilities for all workers