The Argyle Participation Agreement, Australia | Print |

Rio Tinto’s Argyle Diamond Mine is located in the remote East Kimberley region of Western Australia and operates in a region suffering from considerable economic and social disadvantage. One of the company’s main priorities is to help build a stronger and more robust East Kimberley economy, that is not dependent upon the mine’s operation.

To this end, it has initiated training, employment and business development programmes, for the indigenous people that will improve their skills and increase the number and type of self-sustaining businesses. Argyle has also built partnerships with local organisations, communities and businesses to develop health and education programmes. Argyle supports indigenous people to become the drivers of economic and community development, so that growth and improvement will continue for Aboriginal communities long after Argyle has left the region.

The Argyle Participation Agreement acknowledges that traditional owners are the mining lease custodians, while in turn the traditional owners recognise Argyle’s right to mine. The agreement enables financial benefits to be indexed to Argyle’s net profit and put into trusts, laying the foundation for a shared commitment to employment, education and business development in the East Kimberley. There is a commitment to improve community and social infrastructure for Aboriginal communities in the East Kimberley region. The agreement also gives support and preference to local Aboriginal people for jobs and training. In addition, traditional owners have the right to tour the mine site operations each year and raise any matters, and there is a mechanism to raise any land management or water management. Argyle has also agreed to submit to traditional owners any major rehabilitation or decommissioning proposals and must seek the views of traditional owners before proceeding.

More than 50 Aboriginal heritage sites have been identified on the Argyle lease with another 25 within a few kilometers of the lease boundary. Argyle acknowledges that the mining lease area is rich in both archaeological and ethnographic Aboriginal sites and that the Participation Agreement needs to provide the strongest protection possible for these sites in the future. Argyle has also said it wants to leave behind “nothing but footprints” but it is also working to leave the legacy of a fully rehabilitated landscape with many native plant species that are important to the Aboriginal people.

Argyle provides financial and other support for traditional Aboriginal theatre and painting.