AREEA extends its congratulations to member Fortescue Metals Group (FMG) after last week reaching its goal of awarding $1 billion in contracts to Aboriginal businesses six months ahead of schedule.
The milestone was reached after $500m in contracts were last week awarded to six joint ventures owned by Native Title Groups for the procurement of services across the company’s Pilbara accommodation villages.
FMG’s Billion Opportunities program set the target in 2011 with a prospective completion date of December 2013, but the new contracts have closed on the goal six months early.
Eligible contractors had to be at least 25% owned by an Aboriginal person or group. Of the 102 contracts and subcontracts awarded since the program’s implementation, more than 80% were businesses of at least 50% Aboriginal-owned.
Brian Tucker, of the Nyiyaparli people, secured a contract as part of a joint ventures with Morris Corporation and said the opportunity was a welcome one for the Pilbara’s Aboriginal people.
“For a long time, we struggled and felt that nobody believed in us, but we kept knocking on doors and now Fortescue has given us an opportunity,” Mr Tucker said.
“We want to take it and do the best job we can.”
FMG chief executive Nev Power was elated with the outcome of the Billion Opportunities program, saying it was a landmark in an independent and promising future for Australia’s First People.
“We could have given our traditional owners money but that would have been the easy option,” Mr Power said.
“Instead, we have given them something more important – an opportunity to start their own business, which means they can provide jobs for their own people, build capacity and build assets.
“When their contracts with Fortescue are over, they will be left with a business that can continue to grow and provide more opportunities.”
FMG employs more than 460 Indigenous people directly and an additional 500 through contracting partners. Indigenous people represent 26% of the company’s Pilbara-based workforce.
For more information about the FMG Billion Opportunities program, click here.