Mining magnate Andrew Forrest says his "heart bleeds" when he sees foreign workers fill mining jobs that could otherwise be taken by indigenous Australians.
The Australian reports Forrest said while there was a place for skilled migration some vacancies could easily be filled by indigenous workers if they were given a small amount of training and a chance.
The comments were seen as an unspoken criticism of Gina Rinehart, who is currently leading an industry push to find skilled workers overseas.
According to The Australian, without directly mentioning Hancock Prospecting or other entities Forrest said he hoped miners could reconsider their focus on foreign workers.
"I would say to people who look to 457 [visas], first recognise that Australia has changed and you must change with it and look first to your indigenous brothers and sisters to fill those jobs," he said.
Officials for Rinehart's proposed Roy Hill project in the Pilbara previously said the development would need 10,000 workers over a three year period, and there was an intention to create 2,000 permanent positions for Australians.
Forrest established the Australian Employment Covenant in 2008 with the aim of creating 50,000 indigenous jobs.