Rio Tinto plans to grow the number of contracts it awards to Western Australian suppliers through a fresh approach to procurement.
The mining company says it already awards 77 per cent of its contracts to local suppliers in WA.
However, Rio iron ore chief executive Chris Salisbury outlined the company’s intentions to work with local suppliers even more through the new approach.
To support local suppliers, Rio has introduced several initiatives in WA, including an online procurement portal, enabling businesses to register interest and view upcoming opportunities.
Rio has set up a team of procurement specialists, dedicated to analysing work opportunities and identifying procurement opportunities for WA-based suppliers.
The mining company will increase collaboration with its major suppliers to raise awareness of opportunities with these suppliers for local businesses.
Rio also plans to partner with small business development specialists to provide training and mentoring support to selected businesses needing assistance to complete for tenders.
Salisbury said Rio’s new approach would make it easier for WA businesses to compete for contracts with the company and its major suppliers.
“WA is the home to our iron ore operations and local businesses have been critical to our ongoing success,” Salisbury said.
“While we already award 77 per cent of our contracts to local suppliers, we want to do more to encourage local businesses to work with us.
“The local procurement programme will encourage businesses to thrive and employment opportunities grow across the state.
“We recognise the social and economic contribution made by local businesses. These businesses employ and train local people, are an integral part of the community, and help make WA a better place to live.”
Rio has recently held several workshops across the state with industry suppliers. The company said attendees were encouraged by its new approach to prioritise local businesses wherever possible.
Tidal Solutions managing director Rob Collins, who was involved in a workshop at Dampier, said: “Tidal Solutions can see the possible benefits of the local procurement programme to local businesses within the Pilbara, in developing and sustaining local content.
“We also see the opportunities to look at future works planned to allow adequate timing to assess the scopes and submit a competitive bid for these works,” Collins said.