Fortescue awards $179m of contracts to Aboriginal businesses

Fortescue Metals Group has awarded two contracts to the value of $179 million to Aboriginal businesses for work at the Solomon Hub iron ore operation in Western Australia.

The contracts are the largest Fortescue has awarded to Aboriginal businesses in its history. The first of two separate contracts was won by Roebourne-based Wirlu-murra Enterprises to support the non-process infrastructure operations at Solomon Hub.

Wirlu-Murra first delivered these services in 2015 through an unincorporated joint venture wth contractor Thiess.

The second contract was awarded as part of an unincorporated EG WME JV, consisting of Eastern Guruma and Wirlu-Murra for road maintenance and resource definition services at Solomon.

The EG WME JV has been performing these services since 2013. The new five-year term comes as a a result of its ‘excellent safety and operational performance,’ according to Fortescue.

“We are delighted to see Aboriginal businesses we have partnered with for some time grow and prosper. These contracts establish Wirlu-murra as one of the largest Aboriginal businesses in Australia and, significantly, empowers them to deliver further employment opportunities for Aboriginal people,” Fortescue chief executive Elizabeth Gaines said.

“Our ‘Billion Opportunities’ initiative has provided our Native title groups and their members the chance to build sustainable futures for their communities through the provision of genuine economic opportunity.”

Wirlu-murra has been providing jobs to the Yindjibarndi people and supporting many local community organisations providing services to the Roebourne community, according to Wirlu-murra Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation chairperson Rodney Adams.

“We look forward to continuing our close relationship with Fortescue to provide new opportunities to empower our people,” he said.

The Solomon Hub in the Hamersley Ranges is 60 kilometres north of Tom Price and 120 kilometres to the west of Fortescue’s Chichester Hub. It comprises the Firetail and Kings Valley mines, which together have production capacity of 70 million tonnes a year.

This contracts announcement brings the total value of contracts awarded by Fortescue to Aboriginal businesses and JV since 2011 to $2.3 billion.

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