Fortescue joins initiative to end modern slavery

Fortescue chairperson Andrew Forrest AO was largely responsible for Australia's Modern Slavery Act introduction in 2018.

Fortescue Metals Group is one of 10 Western Australian mining, energy and resource companies joining an initiative to eliminate modern slavery risks within its supply chain.

The company’s Minderoo Foundation Walk Free initiative is developing a toolkit for organisations to identify modern slavery risks and what they are doing to counter them.

Walk Free estimates modern slavery still affects more than 40 million people globally, and aims to end modern slavery, including forced labour and forced marriages.

The toolkit includes a supplier self-assessment questionnaire, frequently asked questions and the Walk Free Foundation guidance Understanding Modern Slavery, which is available in four languages.

Fortescue chief executive officer Elizabeth Gaines said the company opposed all forms of slavery and forced labour across its own operations and its suppliers’ operations.

“As an industry, we have a significant role to play in addressing the risk of modern slavery in our supply chains,” Gaines said.

“We believe a coordinated approach between government, businesses, civil society and the community is crucial to eradicating modern slavery.

“Modern slavery has been a key focus for Fortescue for a number of years and significantly it was the strong advocacy from business, most notably from our chairperson and founder Andrew Forrest AO, that led to the introduction of Australia’s Modern Slavery Act.”

Passed in 2018, the Modern Slavery Act requires large Australian businesses to make annual reports on their actions to address modern slavery risks with their businesses.

Walk Free chief executive officer and Fortescue non-executive director Jenn Morris said the document’s open-source design increased efficiency in identifying modern slavery risks.

“We commend the design of this open-source document that supports the mandatory reporting requirements of the Australian Modern Slavery Act,” Morris said.

“This approach reduces the administration of monitoring yet increases the efficiency and effectiveness of driving better outcomes in identifying the risks of modern slavery.”

The 10 companies participating in the pilot program are Fortescue, South32, Anglo American, INPEX, Gold Fields, CITIC Pacific Mining, Iluka Resources, Western Power, Synergy and ATCO.

To keep up to date with Australian Mining, subscribe to our free email newsletters delivered straight to your inbox. Click here.