Tony Abbott to visit proposed mine training centre in Arnhem Land

Prime Minister Tony Abbott will today visit a proposed training centre in north-east Arnhem Land as part of his tour of Indigenous communities in the Top End.

Yesterday the PM spent the day visiting a host of Indigenous businesses operated by the Gumatj clan and drilled the first official exploration hole for the Gumatj-led mining operation on Gumatj country.

It is hoped the exploration activity will lead to bauxite mining at the site.

In August the Gumatj Corporation announced it would establish a mine training centre with support from Rio Tinto.

The new centre will provide training for Yolngu people and is an important step towards the creation of a bauxite mining operation to be run by the Gumatj clan at Dhupuma Plateau.

"Our aim is to create a sustainable, Indigenous-owned business that will deliver long-term economic benefits for the Yolngu people," Gumatj Deputy Chairman Djawa Yunupingu said.

"This training centre will help Yolngu develop the skills to work in mines across the Northern Territory, through on-the-job training within Gumatj mining operations. It will be available to Aboriginal people throughout the Northern Territory who wish to learn skills in the mining industry.”

Rio has agreed to kick in $2.4 million in support of the new centre.

Rio Tinto Alcan president and CEO of bauxite and alumina, Phillip Strachan, said exploration drilling by the Yolngu was important for future generations.

“The exploration program is an important step by the Gumatj clan towards the creation of a bauxite mining operation,” he said.

“We believe the training centre will be a catalyst for Yolngu people across the region to develop the life skills and training needed to establish successful careers in the mining industry.”

Late last year Rio Tinto's Gove operations and the Gumatj Aboriginal Corporation signed an MoU to complete a feasibility study on the bauxite project.

Indigenous community leader Galarrwuy Yunupingu welcomed the news saying it will allow Aboriginal people to commercially develop their land and improve their ability to become self-sufficient.

Image: SMH

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