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Rio Tinto's record spend on Indigenous businesses in 2023

David Prestipino -

Rio Tinto has reported a record spend on WA Indigenous businesses across its operations in 2023.

WA's largest iron ore miner increased its spend with local Indigenous businesses this year by 35 per cent to a new high mark of $593 million, as part of an $8.8 billion outlay to more than 2400 suppliers across the state.

More than $875m went to businesses near Rio Tinto's operations, including $835m in the Pilbara, with about $500m of that going to Indigenous businesses, 80 per cent of which were owned by Traditional Owners, the company said.

The new figures showed Rio Tinto had increased annual spend with WA suppliers by 78 per cent since 2018.

On the national front, Rio Tinto spent $727m on 168 Indigenous businesses across Australia, an increase of 29 per cent on 2022, as part of a five per cent jump in spend to more than 5800 suppliers in total, to $16.1b.

Rio Tinto iron ore CEO Simon Trott said the company remained committed to sharing its success across communities through providing businesses opportunities and jobs for locals.

"As we invest in the future of our business and operations in Western Australia, we will continue to create opportunities for suppliers," he said.

Mr Trott was speaking at the Supplier Recognition Awards, where Rio Tinto recognised 700 people for their contribution to the company as suppliers.

"We are proud of the momentum we have built over the last six years to partner with more businesses," he said.

WA Premier Roger Cook said it was essential local businesses were engaged by the resources sector to help strengthen the economy and provide jobs across the state.

“We have in place a range of initiatives to ramp up local content on government projects, and it is great to see major companies like Rio Tinto increasing their local spend," he said at the event.

Karratha-based and 100 per cent Aboriginal-owned company MundaMurra, which provides rail, utilities, civil and mining services, won a major award for local engagement, which recognised its commitment to investing in the local workforce in regions Rio operates and having a positive impact on the community.

Rio Tinto's Australian CEO Kellie Parker said it needed the communities where it operated in to be successful for the company to remain prosperous in the long term.

“We strive to employ locally and buy locally in Australia – especially from Indigenous, small and regional businesses," she said. 

"It's about providing opportunities to help these businesses grow and, in doing so, creating new jobs and training opportunities for many Australians, helping to support the nation's economy.

“We’re proud to have increased our spend with Australian Indigenous businesses by 29 per cent to A$727 million in 2023 and with local businesses around Australia by 25% to A$1.2 billion.”


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