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Rio Tinto has created more than 300 jobs to support its iron ore business in Western Australia.

They include skilled operational and maintenance roles, apprentices, graduates and Aboriginal trainees.

Its open skilled roles range from front line supervisors, experienced operators of excavators, haul trucks and graders to maintenance staff such as heavy diesel fitters.

These are a mix of fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) roles from Perth and Rio Tinto’s regional hubs in Western Australia and residential positions in Perth and the Pilbara.

Rio Tinto operates 16 iron ore mines in the Pilbara including the Tom Price, Brockman, West Angelas, Yandicoogina and Robe Valley operations.

It employs more than 12,000 employees in the region, 30 per cent of which are FIFO.

Rio Tinto intends to hire an additional 160 apprentices, graduates and Aboriginal trainees from the Pilbara, Perth and other regional centres.

This year’s intake of apprentices and graduates is up 25 per cent from last year.

“Throughout this challenging period we are committed to keeping our people and our communities safe and supporting Western Australians with employment opportunities to help deliver on our plan to invest $10 billion in the Pilbara over the next three years,” Rio Tinto Iron Ore chief executive Chris Salisbury said.

“This will help ensure we can continue to operate while making a strong contribution to the state and national economies.”

Rio Tinto is also set to upskill out-of-work apprentices across various industries by covering their fees for a course in automation.

Up to 200 apprentices who have had their apprenticeships suspended or cancelled due to COVID-19 are eligible for the enrolment.

“Working alongside Rio Tinto on this important initiative, SM (South Metropolitan) TAFE will be delivering future-focussed skills to Western Australian apprentices during a critical time in our economic recovery,” SM TAFE managing director Terry Durrant said.

SM TAFE, in partnership with Rio Tinto and the Western Australian Government plans to double students’ intake through an expansion to regional TAFEs.

The Western Australian Government welcomed Rio Tinto’s commitment in upskilling the displaced apprentices during COVID-19.

“WA is a global leader in automation and this course will allow Western Australians to take full advantage of the many opportunities automation is expected to deliver to industry and the WA economy,” the Western Australian premier Mark McGowan said.

“I encourage Western Australians, particularly those whose employment has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, look into the employment opportunities currently on offer at Rio Tinto.”