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Indigenous business wins massive Wodgina contract from MinRes

David Prestipino -

Indigenous mine rehabilitation and earthworks company Buru Rehab has won a five-year contract from Mineral Resources for work at its Wodgina lithium mine in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.

Buru Rehab owner George Todd, a Traditional Owner of the Country where the Wodgina mine is, said the long-term contract for road maintenance, dust mitigation, civil earthworks, load and haul, rehabilitation and general site maintenance works would boost its Indigenous workforce from its current level of 65 per cent, as well as participants in its traineeship program.

The majority Indigenous-owned Kariyarra company would employ a further 12 people for the contract at the Wodgina mine site, 110km south of Port Hedland and one of the largest known, hard rock lithium deposits in the world.

Mr Todd said Buru - named after the local Kariyarra name for spinifex - was established with the goal of providing long-term benefits to the local Kariyarra people, the Traditional Owners of the land where Wodgina is situated.

Buru's traineeship program was designed to uniquely support each participant and provide them with an introduction to mining, and flexible work conditions for individual commitments to culture and family.

"Employing Indigenous people to work on mine sites and for them to be proactively engaged in rehabilitation of Country, enables quality outcomes for our people and culture," Mr Todd said.

"Along with the civil works, Buru Rehab will undertake rehabilitation for MinRes' exploration and mining activities, restoring the land and supporting it for future uses."

MinRes communities and heritage general manager Heath Nelson said the Buru contract would also provide sub-contracting opportunities for other First Nations businesses.

"We're pleased Buru Rehab is providing other Indigenous-owned businesses opportunities and security to invest in their own machinery and equipment," he said.

"This contract will have positive flow-on effects for years to come, offering ongoing employment opportunities for people living in the Pilbara."

Last year Buru won a three-year, $59m contract from the WA government for earthworks to help stabilise the Ellendale diamond mine in the Kimberley.

MinRes meanwhile has long worked proactively with Traditional Owners to identify collaborative opportunities and increase First Nations participation across its projects, with 3.5 per cent of its workforce Indigenous - almost double from the 2021-2022 financial year.

In November 2022, the MinRes board visited the Wodgina lithium operation and met the Kariyarra Aboriginal Corporation board to establish key relationships and connections.

MinRes' community grant program offers up to $10,000 to help Indigenous groups deliver programs and services across the Pilbara, Goldfields-Esperance region and Shire of Yilgarn.



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