Local training a rare opportunity
A trailblazing rare earths mining project in the region that could create up to 1000 jobs during construction has swung the door open on a new education facility to offer training and employment avenues to one of the most remote communities in WA.
Northern Minerals launched its $8.1 million Aboriginal training centre at its Browns Range site recently, 150km from Halls Creek, which is currently operating a pilot plant to test the scope of rare heavy earth mineral production in the area.
The hub would run programs up to eight weeks for the tiny indigenous community of Ringer Soak, 170km south-east from the mine base, which has a small population of less than 200.
Participants at the on-site facility would have the chance to work in all sectors of the Browns Range project, from operational and machinery roles to administration and catering, with potential employment opportunities at the end of the course.
Tailored to the abilities of each individual, programs run at the facility, in conjunction with the Kununurra-based Wunan Foundation, would also include basic literacy and numeracy, personal development, computer skills, cross-cultural awareness, health and first aid.
Members of the tiny community joined Northern Minerals executives and Member for Durack, Melissa Price, for the official building opening recently, with the first intake of trainees expected in April.
Northern Minerals chairman Colin McCavana said the facility was intended to improve the employability of nearby community members, whether it be at the mine or other ventures.
Wunan Foundation chair Ian Trust said he hoped the program would benefit a community that had been “screaming out” for economic opportunity in recent years.
“Getting a job is an important step but there are a few things that some of our people have to do before they get to that stage in terms of skills, education and health,” he said.
“The end result we want to see is long-term employment.”
Ms Price said the facility had been a long time coming and she admired the vision of the mining company to include local community members in its growth.
The Federal Government made a $4.8 million contribution to the $8 million centre in 2017.
The $700 million Brown Range mine is halfway into its three-year pilot stage, with Northern Minerals planning to construct a plant up to 10 times its current size, creating up to 1000 jobs and 160 long-term operational positions.
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