Fortescue Metals Group and members of the Wintawari Guruma Aboriginal Corporation have partnered to develop new mines at Fortescue’s Solomon Hub operations in Western Australia.
The 10-year mine services contract to be awarded to the new joint venture is estimated to be worth over $500 million, making the contract the largest ever awarded to an Aboriginal business by Fortescue.
Under the co-management framework, Fortescue and members of Wintawari – the prescribed body corporate for the Eastern Guruma People – will establish a culturally safe mining joint venture to mine the East and West Queens deposits.
A working group will be formed to collaboratively work together on all stages of the mine development.
The agreement builds on the decade long relationship between the parties, which was formalised in a Land Access Agreement in December 2009.
Wintawari chair Glen Camille said the establishment of the joint venture represents the next step in the journey with Fortescue.
“We are glad to work with Andrew Forrest and Fortescue to improve the economic outcomes for Aboriginal people and thank Andrew for his demonstrated commitment,” he said.
“Working collaboratively, we will ensure that Eastern Guruma people are active participants in the future development of mines on our country, enabling deeper consultation around the protection of culturally significant sites while building a better future for our people.”
Fortescue chief executive officer Elizabeth Gaines said Fortescue is proud of its longstanding relationship with Wintawari Guruma Aboriginal Corporation.
“We are confident that this new collaborative framework will strengthen our ties with the Eastern Guruma People, through the unique opportunity to have a seat at the table to share cultural knowledge and guide the growth of Fortescue’s operations on their country.”
Fortescue chairman and founder Andrew Forrest said the framework will shape a new shared direction for Fortescue and the Eastern Guruma People.
“Together, we will provide enduring benefit for future generations, while preserving their unique culture and heritage,” he said.
The partnership continues Fortescue’s strong working relationship with Indigenous businesses in 2021, after a $350 million maintenance and shutdown contract was handed to Warrikal in July.