Fortescue commits $20m in aid to Solomon contractors

Ore processing facility at Solomon. Image: Fortescue Metals Group

Fortescue Metals Group has approved $20 million in financial support for nine Aboriginal contractors.

This is part of Fortescue’s $50 million funding initiative launched in 2018, which is aimed to provide competitive finance to lease required assets.

The latest funding went to nine recipients, including Wirlu-murra Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation, which received $5.64 million for the purchase of a plant and equipment for its non-process infrastructure operations, road maintenance and resource definition contract at Fortescue’s Solomon Hub in Western Australia.

This contract was part of Fortescue’s largest contract awards through the company’s Billion Opportunities Program, valued at $179 million. It was also awarded to Eastern Guruma for works at the Solomon Hub.

Solomon has a production capacity of 70–75 million tonnes a year on the back of the Firetail and Kings Valley mines.

Fortescue chief executive Elizabeth Gaines said Fortescue had been working with Wirlu-murra since 2013.

“We are delighted to see them grow to be one of the largest Aboriginal businesses in Australia, delivering important employment opportunities for Aboriginal people,” she said.

Fortescue chief financial officer Ian Wells added that strong Aboriginal businesses were key to creating employment and economic opportunities.

“Access to capital has been identified by our Aboriginal contracting partners as a barrier to growth and through our innovative guaranteed leasing facility with ANZ, we are helping to address this challenge by providing practical tools to build long-term capability and capacity,” Wells said.

Wirlu-murra Enterprises director John Sandy said with the support of Fortescue and ANZ, the company had been able to access finance to purchase equipment instead of hiring from an external contractor.

“(This provides) us the opportunity to own assets and generate more cash flow to invest back into training and employment for our community,” he said.

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