Fortescue protects Indigenous relations despite High Court defeat

Fortescue Metals Group has lost a High Court appeal over native title of Western Australia’s Yindjibarndi people.

The decision, which was given in late May has since seen Fortescue continue to support indigenous communities through its business operations.

Fortescue have since awarded Mallard Deemy with $11m in contracts to construct and install laboratory, storage and administrative facilities for the Eliwana mine and rail project in Western Australia.

An employment increase is expected, with the contracts forecast to create more than 100 jobs for people in the Pilbara, Carnarvon and Perth.

Aboriginal-owned Mallard Deemy has previous history a Fortescue subcontractor for the deconstruction of the Wheatstone camp in Onslow before it was moved to Eliwana.

More than 40 per cent of the Onslow project’s workers were Aboriginal employees

Mallard Deemy director Donna Meyer said the new contracts display the valuable capabilities of Aboriginal businesses.

“These contracts are a demonstration of Mallard Deemey’s strong capabilities and will also enable us to commit to our continued training and employment of local Aboriginal people, positioning our business very well for the future,” she said.

According Fortescue chief executive Elizabeth Gaines, Supporting and working with Indigenous businesses provided Aboriginal communities with benefits from the company’s projects.

“Supporting and investing in sustainable Aboriginal businesses is at the heart of our approach to ensuring Aboriginal communities benefit from the growth and development of our business,” she said.

“Our Billion Opportunities Aboriginal procurement program has provided a platform to demonstrate the skills and capability of Aboriginal businesses and the chance for Aboriginal people to build a future for their communities through economic opportunity.”

The Eliwana mine and rail project officially commenced construction in July 2019.

The project includes 143 kilometres of rail development and a 30 million tonnes a year dry ore processing facility.

Fortescue expect it to continue to expand the company’s low-cost iron ore production.