A $4.8 million grant from the Building Better Regions Fund will help Northern Minerals and the Wunan Foundation create new work opportunities for Aborigines at Browns Range in the East Kimberley. The heavy rare earths developer says the new training-to-work program is essential for the company to meet its target of 20% indigenous employment.
Heavy rare earths developer Northern Minerals have been awarded $4.8 million under the Federal Government’s Building Better Regions Fund to back an Aboriginal training-to-work program at Browns Range.
Northern told the ASX on Monday it had won the grant as part of a consortium led by the Wunan Foundation, an Aboriginal development organisation in the East Kimberley.
The $4.8 million in public funds represents more than half of the training-to-work program price tag of $8.1 million, which is part of the cost of establishing infrastructure at the Browns Range rare earths project.
Northern Minerals reported that the program would be essential to achieving the company’s long-term target of 20% Aboriginal employment at Browns Range.
Northern Minerals MD and CEO, George Bauk, said “The development of the Aboriginal training-to-work program, in partnership with Wunan, is an important part of the Northern Minerals culture of working closely with our host communities to deliver tangible benefits.
“Having worked in the region for nearly a decade, we recognize and understand the impact that this project will have in East Kimberley communities and as such we need to do everything possible to ensure it is a success.
“We would like to thank the Federal Government for their support and Wunan for its leadership in this area, and we look forward to celebrating future outcomes from the program together.”
Management added that infrastructure construction for the training-to-work program will begin in the near term.
Development of Australia’s first heavy rare earths mine at Browns Range is racing ahead after the board reached a positive final investment decision in April. The mine is being built as a continuous pilot operation, which will run at 10% of the capacity of a full-scale operation for the first three years.
The $329 million full-scale plant has the potential to create up to 400 construction jobs and 300 operational jobs over its 11-year mine life, which represents a significant opportunity for indigenous employment in the East Kimberley.