Rio Tinto has pledged to boost its local content by making it easier for suppliers to hook up with the mining giant’s Pilbara iron ore division.
Under plans announced today, Rio Tinto says a new local procurement team will be dedicated to linking WA businesses with new job opportunities.
“Rio Tinto has spent almost $57 billion with Western Australian businesses over the past seven years, but we want to do more,” says Chris Salisbury, the company’s CEO of iron ore.
“While we are proud that 77 per cent of our procurement is already with WA local suppliers, it’s time to see what else we can do.
“What we’re announcing today will grow over time, but I have a firm expectation that we will be able to assist more WA and Pilbara Aboriginal businesses obtain work with Rio Tinto straight away,” he says.
The company says it plans a series of workshops in the Pilbara and Perth, where information on forward procurement plans will be shared.
“Rio Tinto is a major purchaser of goods and services in WA – we want them to provide as many opportunities to local business as possible," CCI Chief Executive Officer Deidre Willmott said.
"We also see the opportunity for local business to increase capacity and capability – CCI can provide assistance to companies on how to do this.”
Rio Tinto also aims to establish a web portal to provide improved visibility of upcoming contracts, allowing more WA businesses to lodge their interest in future work.
Big-ticket Pilbara mine expansions are off the agenda in post-boom WA but all three major producers – Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton and Fortescue Metals Group – are either planning or developing replacement mines.
Rio Tinto is currently expanding its Silvergrass mine, which requires about 500 new jobs during the construction phase.
Maintenance is another big opportunity for contractors as the sprawling infrastructure network ages.
Rio Tinto’s integrated Pilbara system, built up over the past four decades, includes 1700km of rail and four ports.
The company’s Pilbara iron ore business already has more than 1200 WA suppliers and makes a large contribution to the State economy through local procurement, taxes and royalties, Salisbury says.
The new procurement team will also partner with these existing suppliers to help identify local businesses that may be able to sub-contract to them, Salisbury says.
“We will also help smaller firms build the internal capacity to work with us by linking prospective suppliers with business development specialists.