Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are the first peoples of Australia, and the minerals industry recognises the rights and interests of Indigenous peoples in relation to the lands and waters to which there is a special connection.
The Australian minerals industry’s approach to working with Indigenous communities is founded on mutual respect and a commitment to long-term and mutually beneficial partnerships.
This partnership had led to significant increase in the number of Indigenous people employed in the minerals industry. The industry employed 6,652 Indigenous workers in 2016 - or around 3.7 per cent of the total mining workforce, with 150 per cent growth since 2006. In 2016, 19 per cent of Indigenous mining workers were women.
Entrepreneurial Indigenous businesses have established themselves as a critical part of the mining supply chain and provide opportunities broader than a single project.
The minerals industry also partners with Traditional Owners and Traditional Owner organisations to support community-led initiatives that contribute to improved quality of life in Indigenous communities. Common initiatives include health and wellbeing, education, culture, sporting and Indigenous ranger programs.
More than 60 per cent of mineral operations are near Indigenous communities and much of the land the industry operates on is covered by native title. Around 1,900 land use agreements have been established over the two decades, of which 99 per cent involved no legal contest.