MELBOURNE, Australia–Rio Tinto is honoured to have this week commemorated 20 years of its Western Cape Communities Co-Existence Agreement (WCCCA) with Traditional Owners at the official opening of the new Western Cape Communities Trust building in Weipa, Queensland.
The Land Use Agreement, which was signed on 14 March 2001, was developed in consultation with 11 Traditional Owner Groups in the region and underpins Rio Tinto’s partnership with Western Cape Communities to create long-term mutual value.
The 20th anniversary was commemorated with representatives of the Traditional Owner Groups at the opening of the WCCT building on 15 June, 2021.
The WCCCA partnership recognises that Rio Tinto operates on Traditional Owner land and acknowledges the special connection Traditional Owners have to their country.
Rio Tinto Aluminium Pacific Operations acting managing director Daniel van der Westhuizen said “We are honoured to commemorate 20 years since the Western Cape Communities Co-existence Agreement was signed, and would like to acknowledge and show appreciation for the work that all parties have contributed to make the agreement an enduring success.
“The agreement represented a new beginning for our relationships with all Western Cape communities, and a mutual commitment between our company and the communities to work together towards a better future.
“It is also an opportunity to reflect on and learn from the past. This means building relationships that are characterised by mutual respect, active partnership and a joint commitment to realise long-term benefits for all Traditional Owners across the Western Cape Region.
“The agreement underscores the importance of working together in genuine partnership for mutual value and benefit to the business and communities alike.
Rio Tinto Aluminium Pacific Operations Bauxite general manager Michelle Elvy said “We have achieved an incredible amount together over the past 20 years, however, we recognise that there is still a lot that we need to do better.
“Developing the skills of current and future generations, providing employment pathways for Local Aborginal Persons, protecting and managing cultural heritage and continuing to foster relationships and partnerships with Traditional Owners and communities across the Western Cape all remain a priority for our business.”
The WCCCA agreement was one of the first Indigenous Land Use Agreements between a mining company and Traditional Owners in Australia and set a precedent for Rio Tinto and the industry.
Some of the key focus areas of the agreement include employment, training, cultural heritage and site protection, business development and ongoing cultural awareness for all employees and contractors.
Since 2002, 206 Local Aboriginal Persons have successfully completed their traineeships with Rio Tinto with many trainees moving on to full time employment either with Rio Tinto or other organisations outside of mining.
Rio Tinto continues to encourage diversification across operations and, over the past 18 months, has expanded traineeships into fields such as Cultural Heritage, Childcare, Environment, Emergency Services, Geology, Information Systems & Technology, and Training & Development.