Australian iron ore major Fortescue Metals Group has forged a joint venture with two Aboriginal contractors for work at the company's Solomon mine in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.
The historic joint venture with the Eastern Guruma and Wirlu-murra Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation (WMYAC), is worth $200m.
As part of the five-year contract, the Aboriginal contractors will work together with existing contractors such as Leighton Contractors, at Solomon, located 60km north of Tom Price.
The joint venture, expected to begin work next month, will undertake mining services work under a mining and operations contract, in addition to a six month earthworks package at the Kings deposit at Solomon, beginning mid-2013.
Completion of earthworks will be in partnership with a major mining contractor, expected to be employed in the next few months.
Fortescue CEO Nev Power commented that the two Pilbara Aboriginal contractors agreed to the JV to build their business within the mining industry.
"There are a phenomenal number of opportunities in the mining industry for Aboriginal people. I'm extremely proud that these two groups, Traditional Owners of the land where the Solomon mine is located, will work together for the greater economic benefit of their communities," Power said.
Power further noted that the company is providing Roebourne and surrounding communities with accessible and sustainable employment opportunities.
Speaking on the agreement WMYAC acting chairperson Maudie Jerrold welcomed this opportunity for Yindjibarndi people to work with and learn from Eastern Guruma and Leighton.
"Yindjibarndi people will see immediate and long term benefits including education, training, jobs and more importantly for us, to learn more about operating our own businesses in the mining industry," Maudie added.
Image: Fortescue's Vocational Training and Employment Centre (VTEC) in Roebourne will train new members of the workforce. Photo: Fortescue Metals Group Ltd.