Fortescue Metals Group has celebrated an important milestone in its commitment to Aboriginal business development, with the approval of A$20 million in financial support for nine Aboriginal contractors under the Company’s guaranteed leasing facility with ANZ.
Launched in 2018, the A$50 million funding initiative offers practical financial solutions to Aboriginal businesses who supply services to Fortescue by providing competitive finance through ANZ to lease required assets, supported by a guarantee from Fortescue.
Fortescue Chief Financial Officer Ian Wells said, “At Fortescue, we believe that strong, sustainable Aboriginal businesses are the key to creating employment and economic opportunities for business owners, their families and communities.
“Access to capital has been identified by our Aboriginal contracting partners as a barrier to growth and through our innovative guaranteed leasing facility with ANZ, we are helping to address this challenge by providing practical tools to build long-term capability and capacity,” Mr Wells said.
Among the nine recipients is the Wirlu-murra Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation, whose business arm Wirlu-murra Enterprises Pty Ltd (WME) received A$5.64 million for the purchase of plant and equipment for its non-process infrastructure operations, road maintenance and resource definition contract at Solomon.
WME Director John Sandy said, “Our longstanding relationship with Fortescue has provided significant training, employment and business development opportunities for our people, and enabled Wirlu-murra to support many of our important local community organisations.
“With the support of Fortescue and ANZ, we have been able to access finance to purchase equipment instead of hiring from an external contractor, providing us the opportunity to own assets and generate more cash flow to invest back into training and employment for our community,” Mr Sandy said.
Fortescue Chief Executive Officer Elizabeth Gaines said, “Fortescue has been working with Wirlu-murra since 2013 and we are delighted to see them grow to be one of the largest Aboriginal businesses in Australia, delivering important employment opportunities for Aboriginal people.”
Since the inception of its Billion Opportunities Aboriginal procurement initiative in 2011, Fortescue has awarded over A$2.5 billion in contracts and sub-contracts to Aboriginal businesses and joint venture partners. The Federal Government’s Indigenous Procurement Policy, launched in 2015, was modelled on Billion Opportunities and has since delivered over A$2 billion in contracts.