FMG rejects indigenous criticism claims

Fortescue chief Nev Power has rejected Indigenous spokesperson David Collard's claims that Aborigines don't want to work in mining as it offends their culture.

Earlier this week Collard called the mining industry 'misguided' in its attempts to increase the levels of its Indigenous workforce.

Collard, who works in Indigenous employment for the National Resource Management program, targeted Fortescue Metals Group's executive chairman Andrew Forrest, explaining that Aboriginal people would prefer to have jobs that "heal the land" and not dig it up.

"[Forrest] doesn't understand the traditional peoples' needs," Collard said.

"He doesn't understand their aspirations. To say that he will get more jobs in mining is the answer, is really only the answer for the mining sector – not Aboriginal people."

Fortescue has now rejected these statements, according to The West.

Power said that mining is providing Indigenous people with opportunities and the skills that they would neither have nor be able to gain whilst living in remote regions.

"Critically important is that mining happens to occur in those remote areas where we do have a lot of indigenous communities," he said.

"From our perspective it's very fortuitous for both, in particular for the indigenous community because otherwise there is no industry or commerce or enterprise in those areas to provide opportunity.

"So the way I see it, we have a perfect partnership where we've got mining enterprise in those areas, where we can provide training and support and jobs that give people in those areas an opportunity."

Powers comments are supported by the chair of Australian Indigenous studies at the University of Melbourne, Marcia Langton, who stated that the mining industry is helping to pull many Indigenous people out of poverty.

Langton went on to say that miners had a better understanding of how to stop the poverty cycle than current governments.

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