Thousands of dollars in mining revenue will be used to establish new Busselton community projects, after a memorandum of understanding was signed by the City of Busselton and Rio Tinto today.
The two parties are due to sign off on the three-year formal commitment this morning which will see an engagement framework established, including designated officers and the development and implementation of strategies to address any identified issues.
The MOU is the first formal relationship between the mining giant and a local government authority where a Rio Tinto regional FIFO program operations.
Rio Tinto also entered into a 12-month funding agreement which would see $185,000 injected into youth and fly-in fly-out support programs.
This includes counselling services at local schools, youth leadership and enterprise programs, a FIFO symposium by the Busselton Family Centre and financial support for the community resource centre.
Rio Tinto Greater Hope Downs mining operations general manager John Dumbill said he was pleased to sign the MOU, which comes just after the recent expansion of additional flights from Busselton to the Pilbara.
“This funding partnership has a particular focus on young people and their families ensuring the unique needs of individual and families who live a FIFO lifestyle are understood and met,” Mr Dumbill said.
A three-month trial was also approved to expand the existing FIFO flights provided by Skywest to include commercial passengers between Busselton and Perth.
Geographe Bay Tourism Association chief executive Simon Taylor welcomed the move to reduce barriers to travel to and from the region.
“The increases in the flexibility of the RPT schedule will certainly appeal to business and leisure tourists, but also local residents,” he said.
Busselton Mayor Ian Stubbs said the City had been in discussion with Rio Tinto for some time about establishing a more formal framework for community engagement.
“Rio Tinto has been flying in and out of the City since 2007 and the signing of this MOU is a natural progression of that relationship,” he said.
Rio Tinto has about 500 employees residing in the region, although not all utilised the Busselton flights.
Mr Dumbill said the company injected more than $100 million in wages and procurement into the South West region.