A dozen Indigenous trainees will start work at Rio Tinto’s Mesa J iron ore mine in Pannawonica this week after completing a 10-week pre-employment program.
The program is run in partnership with Rio Tinto, Asburton Aboriginal Corporation and Pilbara TAFE and delivers training to the Indigenous community with the aim of achieving permanent employment in the mining industry.
Initially the new employees will work a four-day-on, four-day-off roster in town services such as catering, cleaning and landscaping.
The Work Start program was created by Rio Tinto in conjunction with the Ashburton Aboriginal Corporation as a pathway for the long term unemployed to enter the mining workforce.
The participants study literacy, numeracy, occupational health and safety, time management, personal finance management, small machinery operation and other workplace skills.
Rio Tinto Iron Ore Aboriginal employment strategy manager Camis Smith said it was a progressive introduction into the workforce.
“We are able to create many jobs for Aboriginal people in mining and its support services, but the real test is retaining these people in our workforce,” Mr Smith said.
“This is a challenge for Rio Tinto and for every other employer.
“The way we are responding is by making arrangements to suit our new recruits wherever possible.”