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Indigenous-owned companies awarded more than $150 million in BHP contracts

Brendan Foster -

Two First Nation businesses in South Australia have been awarded contracts worth more than $150 million from mining giant BHP.

Civil and construction company, Intract Australia has been given the largest contract ever handed out by BHP to an Indigenous-owned company, worth $96 million over five years for industrial cleaning at Olympic Dam.

Additionally, Zancott Knight and Platinum Civil Construction have been jointly awarded $60 million over five years. Two Arabana-owned businesses - Seamer Civil and Ngurra Civil & Construction will also be employed as subcontractors.

Intract Australia chief executive and proud Yorta Yorta man, John Briggs said the BHP contract would create meaningful opportunities for First Nations people.

"Our vision when we started Intract was to form a business that would not only open doors for Indigenous training and development, but deliver stable and long-term employment for Indigenous people in contracting services across the mining, civil, and construction industries," he said.

"This new contract with BHP will increase our site-based workforce to 40 FTE's and provide further opportunities to provide meaningful employment, create career pathways, and execute development and training for Indigenous people."

Platinum Civil Constructions managing director, Kiara Johnson, said the company was able to rapidly grow because of their ongoing work with BHP.

"Working with BHP has provided Platinum with the opportunity to rapidly grow from a small to a medium-sized business in less than three years, and provide jobs and training opportunities to regional South Australians," she said.

"I was born and raised in regional South Australia, and through a lot of hard work, I have been able to build Platinum to what it is today, with BHP's support."

Ms Johnson, who was the first Aboriginal woman in South Australia to own and manage a civil construction company, said the company was focused on providing jobs for First Nations women.

"17 years ago I was working for a contractor at Olympic Dam, and I was the only female out of about 30 people in the company," she said.

"Now, I own and manage a business that essentially delivers this same contract."

BHP head of global indigenous procurement, Chris Cowan, said BHP was transforming the way it engaged with Indigenous and Traditional Owner businesses.

"Our focus is not just on increasing spend, it's about ensuring we create partnerships that are deeper, sustainable and ultimately more profitable for the businesses," he said.

"We are seeing fantastic progress, and what makes me particularly proud are the examples where we demonstrate that we are working differently for better outcomes, just like the two contracts recently signed in South Australia.

"We've locked these new ways of working into our business and we're working to deliver more. BHP's sixth Reconciliation Action Plan commits us to $1.5 billion in direct spend with Indigenous-owned businesses, in a way that supports sustainable partnerships, long-term economic outcomes, capability development, and provides more visibility on opportunities."

Last financial year, BHP spent more than $54 million with local Indigenous suppliers at Olympic Dam.

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