BHP’s WA Iron Ore business will more than double its spend with Indigenous vendors to more than $300 million by the end of the 2024 financial year, as it looks to create more opportunities for Indigenous businesses.

BHP Asset President WA Iron Ore, Brandon Craig, made the announcement at an event with the Nyiyaparli people in Newman to celebrate the signing of a $9.2 million contract with Karlka FenceWright – a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Karlka Nyiyaparli Aboriginal Corporation (KNAC).

With more than 350 members, KNAC is the representative corporation of the Nyiyaparli people, the Traditional Owners of approximately 36,684 square kilometres of land and waters in the east Pilbara region of Western Australia.

The contract will see five kilometres of fencing panels fabricated locally and installed across BHP’s six residential villages around Newman. Many of the panels will feature the work of Victor Parker, Traditional Owner, senior Nyiyaparli elder and artist.

Karlka FenceWright is one of 70 Indigenous vendors currently registered with BHP. This financial year, BHP WAIO is targeting a total direct Indigenous procurement spend of $137 million. This annual spend is expected to more than double by 2023-24 to more than $300 million a year.

“BHP wants to do much more to build sustainable, profitable and enduring partnerships with Indigenous businesses across our operations, and we are working hard at all levels of BHP to make this happen,” Mr Craig said.

“Our partnership with Karlka FenceWright and the Nyiyaparli people, which we are celebrating today, is just one of many wonderful partnerships that we hope to build upon into the future.

“Contracts like this support the growth of Indigenous enterprise and innovation, and create new opportunities for those businesses to support their own communities – something Indigenous business does best.”

Up to 80 people will be employed by Karlka FenceWright on this project, with a target to employ Indigenous people in at least 15 per cent of those roles. Work began in April and is due to end in July.

Western Australian Minister for Mines and Petroleum, Bill Johnston, said, “Congratulations to BHP on doubling its funding to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander businesses in Western Australia.

“I’d encourage other mining companies to look at opportunities to connect with local Aboriginal businesses.

“The McGowan Government is committed to ensuring developments in Western Australia’s resources industry delivers improved outcomes for Aboriginal people.

“This is why, I was pleased to recently announce the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety will establish an Aboriginal Empowerment Unit to ensure resources projects and policies are developed in a culturally respectful way.”

Other significant contracts recently awarded, valued at a total of more than $150 million, include:

  • A five-year contract with Kingkira, a 100 per cent Nyiyaparli-owned and operated business, to deliver road sweeping services across WAIO’s Port Hedland, Newman, and Mining Area C operations
  • A five-year stemming contract awarded to Lorrex, a Banjima and Nyiyaparli-owned business, working out of the WAIO Pilbara operations of Mining Area C, South Flank and Jimblebar
  • A contract to Ngurrura, a 100 per cent owned and operated Pilbara Aboriginal Traditional Owner company, to recover 44kt of crushed ore material from Mining Area C, with more than 70 per cent Aboriginal employment on the project, engaged via the BHP Local Buying Program
  • A long-term partnership extension with North West Alliance, a Palyku joint venture business, servicing waste management across the Pilbara operations

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