Conversations and collaborations about the resources sector’s future must include Indigenous Australian communities, a panel found.
About 80 per cent of future minerals are based on Indigenous land or those connected with First Nations people. This is why mineral producers should not ignore Indigenous-owned businesses when purchasing goods or services.
“I own a business to employ my own people and keep them going and make sure they have success, and that is why I push for those contracts,” Barada Barna Aboriginal Corporation chair Luarna Dynevor said at the 2022 International Mining and Resources Conference.
“We are making these companies accountable and they are giving us the first right of refusal. The biggest challenge though, is compliance. Big companies make it so hard for small businesses to weave and navigate their way through compliance and – if you do not have assistance in that – you are going to fail.”
During 2021 Whitehaven Coal spent a combined $8.73 million on 14 local Aboriginal-run businesses.
“We are keen to … make sure First Nations businesses are successful on all levels because the biggest employers of Indigenous people are Indigenous businesses and we want to make sure they are strong, resilient and able to move forward,” Aboriginal community relations manager Bob Sutherland said.
“These businesses are changing people’s lives locally. We are making a difference, not only to the economic development within Aboriginal communities but right across the northwest of New South Wales.”
The Cooperative Research Centre for Transformation in Mining Economies (CRC TiME) applauded the proponent for accepting the importance of building relationships with Indigenous communities and businesses.
“Indigenous people need to be included not as stakeholders but as rights holders. We need to be part of the decision making. We want a real participation in all things relating to mining and beyond,” CRC TiME chair Jim Walker said.