Mining giant BHP will train 200 haul train drivers in the next three years through a new recruitment program lauded by WA Premier Mark McGowan. The rail academy traineeship program seeks to preference local jobs, reduce interstate fly-in, fly-out work and focus on TAFE and training within WA. The Premier and Transport Minister Rita Saffioti last week met with recruits at BHP’s Nelson Point operations in Port Hedland. BHP WA iron ore asset president Brandon Craig said the investment would advance the local skills base in rail. “We are committed to doing our part to address critical skills shortages and create new pathways for people to enter the mining industry,” he said. “The program also demonstrates our commitment to create jobs and prosperity in regional WA, with the training based at our rail headquarters in Port Hedland.” Mr McGowan said BHP’s investment in WA jobs had a strong alignment with the Government’s jobs plan. “WA jobs have been my number one priority from day one, and we are continuing to focus on reducing interstate FIFO, enhancing local training, and creating jobs in regional WA,” he said. “We will continue to work closely with industry to develop opportunities to build Western Australia’s workforce. “(This will) create local jobs and continue to support the growth of our resources sector.” Jobs and Trade Minister Roger Cook said the program recognised the need for a sustainable local workforce. “With a large number of women and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people completing this training, I would like to congratulate BHP for its commitment to diversity,” he said. “We know that diverse workplaces are the most productive workplaces.” WA employers had taken on more apprentices and trainees in 2021, with apprenticeship and traineeship commencements up by 72 per cent in the past 12 months.