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Aboriginal businesses benefit from Fortescue residential project

19 February 2015
Six Aboriginal-owned businesses have played a major role in the successful completion of 10 new houses in South Hedland after partnering with Fortescue Metals Group (Fortescue) contractor Mitie Construction. 

Aided by Fortescue’s Aboriginal Business Development team, Mitie Construction engaged Barmelco Electrical, Kookaideri Contracting, Pilbara Painting, Binbirri Contracting, Allround Plumbing Services and Bloodwood Tree Association to provide a range of services on the South Hedland residential project, which is part of Fortescue’s Pilbara Home Ownership Scheme. 

Fortescue CEO Nev Power commended Mitie’s proactive approach to Aboriginal business engagement. 

“This project clearly demonstrates how the right approach can deliver substantial and meaningful opportunities to the Aboriginal community, and highlights the high level of professionalism and capability of Aboriginal businesses,” he said. 

“It is everyone’s responsibility to open the doors of opportunity from the inside.” 
Barmelco Managing Director Barry Puertollano echoed Mr Power’s sentiment. 
“It was a great opportunity to work alongside other Aboriginal businesses,” Mr Puertollano said. 

Kevin Eckerman, of Binbirri Contracting, applauded Mitie on the culture and workmanship displayed during the project and for the efforts made to provide ongoing support and training. 

Fortescue’s dedicated approach to Aboriginal business development through its Billion Opportunities program requires contractors to submit an Aboriginal engagement strategy during the tender process, outlining their targets for Aboriginal employment and business engagement. 

To date, Fortescue has awarded more than $1.7 billion in contracts to Aboriginal businesses and joint ventures through the program. 

Fortescue’s commitment to maintain a residential workforce in the Pilbara has included the construction to date of 141 houses in South Hedland, 54 of which have been purchased through Fortescue’s Pilbara Home Ownership Scheme, which is available to Fortescue employees. 

An additional 30 homes have been purchased from the open market through the scheme, which together with 366 rental properties house Fortescue’s 500 strong residential workforce.