The Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility (NAIF) has approved a $12.5m loan to help fund the development of Australia’s first substantially Indigenous owned and operated iron ore mine.
Australian Aboriginal Mining Corporation Pty Ltd (AAMC) has plans to develop the First Iron Project, located in the Pilbara, 80km north west of Newman.
AAMC is a substantially Aboriginal owned, operated and managed company, part-owned by 100% Indigenous owned company Carey Group that includes Indigenous contractor Carey Mining.
The deposit will be mined on a contract basis by Carey Mining, with 2 million tonnes of ore per year trucked 190km to Fortescue Metals Group’s Cloudbreak mine.
NAIF’s Investment Decision will enable the construction of a borefield, crushing plant and site accommodation, and a 55km haul road to connect the Great Northern Highway to the Cloudbreak mine.
Up to 120 jobs are forecast to be created during construction, with a further 120 roles during ongoing operations. Independent analysis has forecast the net public benefit from the project to be $304m.
The project is important to show support of Aboriginal ownership in an industry where Aboriginal involvement has generally been as employees.
NAIF CEO Laurie Walker said the project could become a milestone for Indigenous participation in the Pilbara.
Ms Walker said: “One of NAIF’s mandatory criteria is to approve strategies for strong Indigenous outcomes for all our investments. Support for the development of Australia’s first substantially Indigenous owned iron ore mine and the procurement and employment opportunities it presents, delivers on our commitment in this important area.”
Established in 2013, AAMC works to identify and promote opportunities for the development of Aboriginal mining capability and capacity in the Pilbara. The Chairman of AAMC is Daniel Tucker, an appointee to the inaugural Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council and a Board member of the Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation.
AAMC has committed to a range of activities under its Indigenous Engagement Strategy including the employment of an Aboriginal Liaison Officer, Aboriginal procurement targets and establishing culturally appropriate Aboriginal employment policies, training and mentoring programmes. The creation of an Australian Aboriginal Mining Academy (AAMA) to provide education opportunities to local Aboriginal people is also being explored.
Financial assistance to the project from NAIF is subject to a number of conditions precedent including the Western Australian Government’s consideration and agreement for the approved funds to be advanced.
The full NAIF media release can be viewed here