Indigenous jobs on rise

Robert DoughertyNorth West Telegraph

Indigenous work opportunities in the mining industry are improving in Hedland and Newman, as resource companies rush to match each other.

A BHP spokeswoman said the number of indigenous employees in their iron ore operations had increased four-fold since 2001 and were targeted to rise from 8 per cent of the total iron ore workforce to at least 13 per cent by 2020.

More than 9 per cent of BHP employees in Newman are indigenous, with about 80 per cent based there residentially while about 10 per cent of BHP employees in Port Hedland are indigenous and 80 per cent residential.

“We are proud to be continuing to build our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander workforce across all of our operations, and we recognise the mutual benefits that stem from a diverse and inclusive workplace,” she said.

“BHP is the largest residential employer in Port Hedland and we will continue to promote residential opportunities.” A FMG spokesman said the company had a commitment to providing training and employment opportunities to Aboriginal people. “We currently have 127 Aboriginal employees working in Port Hedland, representing 21.1 per cent of the total workforce at our Hedland operations and 39.7 per cent of our employees who live in Port and South Hedland,” he said.

Bloodwood Tree Association chief executive Kelly Howlett said indigenous employment in the mining industry was on an upward trend locally.

“It is a noticeable trend that all mining companies and their sub-contractors are striving to do more,” she said.

“This is great, and going forward. I feel there will be more opportunities for local Aboriginal people, both in terms of employment and direct supply of service opportunities.

“There have been significant advancements recently, and with a greater emphasis on local procurement/supply, as well as an emphasis on cultural diversity.”

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