Aboriginal traditional dancers, Weipa

Weipa Communities

We are a major contributor to the regional economy on the Western Cape, including significant investment in local infrastructure to support the Weipa Township. We work alongside Traditional Owners to create long-term mutual value, investing in education, employment, training, and cultural heritage management.

  • Western Cape Community Development Fund
  • Sponsorships & Donations
  • Weipa Township Agreement
  • Indigenous Employment
  • Sourcing Locally

Western Cape Community Development Fund

We are committed to the sustainable development and growth of our community and have made a financial commitment of A$750,000 from 2019–2021 to create the Western Cape Community Development Fund. The Fund is a formalised partnership programme that addresses key social, environmental and economic challenges and opportunities, and creates long-term, sustainable benefits.  

The Western Cape Community Development Fund focuses investment across five areas which have been identified through socioeconomic baseline data and community plans - education, environment, health and wellbeing, inclusion, and economic development. 

We will review the investment areas at the end of 2021 to ensure they remain relevant for our communities and are delivering sustainable outcomes.  

Apply for Funding

The Fund's board will assess applications against the five priority areas (education, environment, health and wellbeing, inclusion and economic). To be eligible, your project must: 

Link to one of the Fund's focus areas and: 

  • provide benefits for one or more of the communities in the Fund's catchment area 
  • align with Rio Tinto's values 
  • be managed by a project team that has the capability to manage funds and projects effectively 
  • not be run by a privately owned business (eg a community organisation or a not-for-profit) 
  • have clear performance measures that focus on sustainable outcomes 
  • have achievable timeframes and a realistic budget 
  • have a broad range of support for the project from other community organisations and partners 

It is also beneficial if you can demonstrate that you have considered: 

  • securing additional funding sources beyond Rio Tinto 
  • a vision for how the project can become self-sufficient (or a pathway for sustainability) beyond the funding period 
  • how Rio Tinto employees or community members can be involved in the project 

For a partnership project to be eligible, the main purpose of funding must not be used for: 

  • operational expenses for an organisation 
  • projects that are solely focussed on capital works 
  • private businesses 
  • individual or personal gain 
  • political or religious purposes 
  • land tenure matters 
  • issues relating to legal processes 
  • projects normally funded by the government 
  • projects that have already received funding or are supported by Rio Tinto in the current calendar year (*there may be exceptions to this based on the previous support provided in the calendar year) 

Sponsorships & Donations

In addition to the Western Cape Community Development Fund, we run a localised community contribution programme focused on sponsorships and donations. This is a separate programme that supports local programmes that enrich the community and ensures the region remains a vibrant place to live and work.

The catchment area for Rio Tinto's community contributions programme includes Weipa, Napranum, Aurukun, Mapoon and NPA. Please note, local programmes can also apply for non-financial, in-kind support through the community contributions programme. This can include capacity building, use of company-owned assets and employee volunteering.

Weipa Township Agreement

In addition to our community contribution, we are a major contributor to the regional economy through our investment in local infrastructure in Weipa. The Weipa Town Authority manages the township with the support of local Traditional Owners under the Weipa Township Agreement. The Authority is made up of elected community representatives, a Traditional Owner representative and an appointed Rio Tinto Aluminium Weipa representative. Our operation's biggest contribution to the Western Cape community is through employee wages, taxes and royalties. 

Indigenous Employment

As the region’s largest employer, providing career opportunities for Indigenous people is a priority for us; in fact, 25% of our workforce is made up of Indigenous Australians. We are committed to improving quality employment outcomes for Indigenous employees, and also to developing existing and potential local Indigenous leaders across our Weipa operations.

Established in 2005, our partnership with the local school, the Western Cape College, continues to thrive. This award-winning partnership supports our Indigenous employment focus and boosts employability for local students through school-to-work pathways.

To support employment in the region beyond the mining industry, Rio Tinto is a signatory to the Western Cape Regional Partnership Agreement (RPA), which brings together representatives from industry, three levels of government and Indigenous stakeholders of the Western Cape.

Sourcing Locally

Our ethos at our Weipa operations is to buy local and employ local. Our Amrun Project has set a benchmark in supporting local and regional suppliers; we have made more than A$2.1 billion in purchases from more than 1,200 Australian suppliers - more than 800 from the state of Queensland. Western Cape York businesses alone have supplied more than A$240 million worth of goods and services.

Weipa employee

Cultural Heritage

We have long been advocates for Indigenous rights in Australia, and today are proud supporters of the Uluru Statement from the Heart. We have agreements in place across all our operations to ensure local Indigenous people have a say in how the benefits of mining are used in their community. 

We work with Traditional Owners to make sure culture is shared and respected, and important heritage sites are looked after properly. Some of the ways we do this is by holding cultural camps on country with Traditional Owners to record important sites and help Elders pass on knowledge to younger generations. And at the Amrun village, we co-designed an area named "Chivarri" with Traditional Owners which includes a historical timeline and a fire pit to share stories around in the evenings. Across the mine, infrastructure – like the Chith export facility – and even blocks of land in the mine plan are named in traditional language. 

Land Agreements

Rio Tinto was the first mining company to embrace Indigenous land rights in Australia in 1995. Agreements recognise Native Title rights and the interests of Traditional Owner groups and also provide monetary and non-monetary inter-generational benefits. They also allow us to secure our ongoing operations and the expansion of our business.

Our mining leases on Western Cape York are spread over almost 4,000 km2, including traditional Indigenous land.  

Our Weipa operations have three Aboriginal Agreements with 12 Traditional Owner groups. These agreements - the Western Cape Communities Co-existence Agreement (WCCCA), the Ely Bauxite Mining Project Agreement (EBMPA) and the Weipa Township Agreement - ensure local Indigenous people have a say in how the benefits of mining are used to support current and future generations. And that is not just financial benefits, but education, training, cultural heritage protection and employment too.