OREANDA-NEWS. October 15, 2015. An Aboriginal traditional owner group will assume full day to day control of a Rio Tinto pastoral operation for the first time after the Ngarluma Aboriginal Corporation today signed an agreement to sub lease the historic Karratha station.

Rio Tinto chief executive Iron Ore and Australia Andrew Harding said the agreement signalled a new era in the management of Karratha Station, which has been owned and managed by Rio Tinto since 1966.

“We are delighted that Ngarluma Aboriginal Corporation was successful in their tender for the Karratha Station sub lease. Their successful management of Mount Welcome Station, which adjoins Karratha Station, made them a natural choice for us,” Mr Harding said.

“I am particularly pleased that an Aboriginal traditional owner group was the successful tenderer. It is the first time an Aboriginal Corporation has fully operated one of our six pastoral businesses. We are committed to working in partnership to help promote further economic participation by Aboriginal people.”

Ngarluma Aboriginal Corporation executive officer Belinda Churnside said planning was already underway for the management of Karratha Station.

“As well as providing us with a kickstart for the next stage of our pastoral business, the agreement means so much to the Ngarluma people. As traditional owners, the Aboriginal people were the backbone of the pastoral industry when it started. Their knowledge of water resources, the best grazing areas and deep understanding of the land has set pastoral stations up for success,” Ms Churnside said.

“We are excited about the opportunity this sub lease is going to offer everyone - young and old - in both running the pastoral station and allowing us to spend more time on our traditional lands.”

Notes for editors

The first pastoral lease on what is now Karratha Station was taken up in 1865. For most of its history, Karratha Station was a sheep station and was one of the first stations to diversify into cattle in 1971. It is one of Rio Tinto’s six pastoral stations in the Pilbara - Karratha, Hamersley, Rocklea, Juna, Yalleen and Yarraloola.

The sub lease process for Karratha Station was facilitated by an external land agent with an Expression of Interest and a merit based process applied to ensure all conditions of the lease and the sub lease were met.

Rio Tinto has a long-standing relationship with the Ngarluma people through a current Indigenous Land Use Agreement and other commercial arrangements. Ngarluma Aboriginal Corporation is also the governing Native Title body for the Ngarluma people, traditional owners of the coastal areas of the West Pilbara. Some of Karratha Station is part of the Ngarluma native title determination area.

For more information on the Ngarluma Aboriginal Corporation visit: www.ngarluma.com.au

About Rio Tinto’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander engagement

  • Rio Tinto is a proud supporter of the national push for constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people through the Recognise campaign.
  • Rio Tinto is one of the largest private sector employers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people with more than 1,600 Indigenous employees and hundreds of additional Indigenous contractors.
  • Rio Tinto takes a holistic and lifecycle approach to Indigenous employment that includes investment in and support for programmes in early childhood development/literacy, school attendance and retention programmes, work readiness and skills training, mentoring, pathways programmes and higher education initiatives – as well as jobs.
  • Rio Tinto currently supports 50 Indigenous tertiary students with their studies and 200 Indigenous apprentices, trainees and graduates in our Australian business.
  • Rio Tinto has trained more than 12,000 employees in cultural awareness training delivered by Traditional Owners.
  • Rio Tinto is working with 80 Indigenous businesses across Australia.