Rio Tinto has awarded more than $60 million of contracts to Aboriginal businesses to develop the Koodaideri iron ore project in the Pilbara, Western Australia.
The US$2.6 billion ($3.5 billion) project moved into construction earlier this year and is expected to be completed by the end of 2021.
White Springs, the largest Aboriginal recipient of awards, will supply more than 600,000 tonnes of ballast for the Koodaideri mine rail line.
Bea Bea Creek quarry, the first indigenous-owned and operated quarry in Western Australia, will be established to fulfil the contract.
Rio Tinto Iron Ore chief executive Chris Salisbury said: “We’ve been operating in the Pilbara for more than 50 years and we couldn’t have built the world-class iron ore business we have today without the support of local and Pilbara Aboriginal businesses.”
The company has awarded significant contracts to Kurtarra Cape USA JV to install fibre optic cables; Construction & Development Solutions for project surveying solutions; Lorrex Contracting to construct three access roads within the mine site; and Karlka Fencewright WA to install fence along the northern rail alignment.
Ngurrara, Yanagu Horizon, and Yurala have also been contracted to perform earthworks for the Pelican Rail Camp, Crossing Rail Camp, and the Koodaideri project’s rail alignment respectively.
“These contract awards highlight the growing level of expertise that sit within these businesses and we are proud to be partnering with them to help develop our most technologically advanced mine,” Salisbury said.
Rio Tinto has also awarded several contracts to NRW Holdings this year, including $18 million to provide apron feeders, side gates, and belt feeders; $65 million to deliver bulk earthworks; and $137 million for the Koodaideri’s rail formation.
The Koodaideri iron mine is part of Rio Tinto’s Mine of the Future development, which aims to find advanced ways to extract minerals while reducing environmental impact and improving safety.