Fortescue Metals Group and members of the Wintawari Guruma Aboriginal Corporation, the prescribed body corporate for the Eastern Guruma People, have today announced a co-management framework to oversee the development of new mines at Fortescue’s Solomon Hub operations in Western Australia.
Under the framework, Fortescue and members of Wintawari will establish a “culturally safe” mining joint venture to mine the East and West Queens deposits on Eastern Guruma country. The 10-year mine services contract to be awarded to the new joint venture is estimated to be worth over A$500 million ($367 million), making the contract the largest ever awarded to an Aboriginal business by Fortescue.
A working group will be formed to collaboratively work together on all stages of the mine development from heritage and environmental approvals, resource drilling and definition and mine planning to operations and rehabilitation, Fortescue says. The agreement builds on the decade-long relationship between the parties, which was formalised in a Land Access Agreement in December 2009.
Wintawari Chair, Glen Camille, said: “The establishment of this new co-management joint venture represents the next step in our journey with Fortescue. We are glad to work with Andrew Forrest and Fortescue to improve the economic outcomes for Aboriginal people and thank Andrew for his demonstrated commitment.
“Working collaboratively, we will ensure that Eastern Guruma people are active participants in the future development of mines on our country, enabling deeper consultation around the protection of culturally significant sites while building a better future for our people.”
Fortescue Chief Executive Officer, Elizabeth Gaines, said: “Fortescue is proud of our longstanding relationship with Wintawari Guruma Aboriginal Corporation. We are confident that this new collaborative framework will strengthen our ties with the Eastern Guruma People, through the unique opportunity to have a seat at the table to share cultural knowledge and guide the growth of Fortescue’s operations on their country.”
Fortescue Senior Manager Indigenous Communities, Heath Nelson, said: “In line with our approach to ensuring our Native Title Partners benefit from our growth and development, this joint venture will also deliver significant economic opportunities through employment and contracting opportunities.”
Fortescue Chairman and Founder, Dr Andrew Forrest AO, said: “It gives me enormous pride to bear witness to this framework, which will shape a new shared direction for Fortescue and the Eastern Guruma People. Together, we will provide enduring benefit for future generations, while preserving their unique culture and heritage.”