Rio Tinto has sealed land use partnerships with five indigenous groups across the Pilbara region of Western Australia, securing the current and future operations of Rio Tinto’s iron ore business while ensuring the full engagement and participation of the region’s traditional owners.
Rio Tinto is also in advanced negotiations with the four remaining indigenous groups upon whose land the mining or infrastructure operations are situated.
Those agreements are expected to be concluded before the end of this year.
Rio Tinto chief executive Sam Walsh said the agreements were a historic acknowledgement of mutual recognition and respect between Rio Tinto and the Traditional Owners.
“They build on previous agreements established for the Mt Tom Price and Yandicoogina operations and our agreement with the Eastern Guruma people in 2001,” he said.
“For Rio Tinto these participation agreements secure platforms of stability and business certainty for decades into the future.
“For Aboriginal people they help to create a future where culture and law is sustained and celebrated, where their children and grandchildren’s children will enjoy a far greater opportunity for health and education and, as a result, jobs and wealth creation.”
Participation agreements providing for the long-term access and land use of the area have been reached with the Ngarluma, Kuruma Marthundunera, Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura, Nyiyaparli and Ngarlawangga groups, covering an estimated 71,000 square kilometres in total.
Under the agreement, the four native title claim groups have negotiated a range of economic and non-ecomonic benefits.
These include an income stream from mining on their lands, training and job opportunities, access to contracts for services for Rio Tinto and support for environmental and heritage activities.
Yamatji Marlpa Aboriginal Corporation chief executive officer Simon Hawkins, said the four Aboriginal groups had worked tirelessly to reach agreement with Rio Tinto.
“The signing of theese agreements is recognition of the professional wayin whih the parties have been able to worl together to get the best outcomes,” he said.
“Through the negotiations, the native title groups now have an established relationship with Rio Tinto that they can build on their future.”