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Traditional Owners
The Pilbara landscape Image: Rio Tinto.

Rio Tinto and Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation (YAC) have signed an updated agreement aimed at strengthening ties and delivering improved social and economic outcomes for the Yindjibarndi people in WA.

The updated agreement, which will be delivered as part of Rio Tinto’s commitment to modernise its relationships with Traditional Owners, was signed on November 9 on Yindjibarndi Country at Jirndawirrinha.

“The partnership will help build resilient and prosperous communities, strengthen our spiritual and cultural heritage and, through strategic business partnerships, create a successful economic model for self-determination for the Yindjibarndi Nation that can endure for generations to come,” YAC chief executive officer Michael Woodley said.

One of the mining giant’s rail networks runs through Yindjibarndi Country, connecting its Pilbara mines to ports at Cape Lambert and Dampier.

Rio Tinto has held a Participation Agreement and Indigenous Land Use Agreement with the Yindjibarndi people since 2013.

Part of the agreement includes support for YAC to deliver the outcomes of its 3C Strategy, which is focused on developing community, commercial and culture projects and programs to assist YAC to fulfil its aspirations of self-determination.

These programs support the Yindjibarndi people’s aspirations to build capacity and capability, and support initiatives that will preserve, sustain and celebrate culture.

“This new agreement represents a true partnership demonstrating mutual trust and commitment where we both apply our best resources to engage, plan and deliver outcomes that can improve the lives of Yindjibarndi members,” Woodley said.

Rio Tinto continues to work with YAC to develop a new model to inform the co-management of Country and decision-making in relation to Rio Tinto activities on Yindjibarndi country, with plans to implement it in 2023.

“We are working hard to re-engage with Traditional Owners and change the way we operate,” Rio Tinto Iron Ore chief executive Simon Trott said.

“This agreement with the Yindjibarndi people is the first delivered as part of our commitment to modernise our relationship with Traditional Owners on whose land we operate.

“It is a demonstration of our commitment to working differently and truly partnering with Traditional Owners to support the achievement of their goals and aspirations. I look forward to seeing what we can achieve with the Yindjibarndi people over the years to come.”