Rio Tinto marks Participation Agreement milestone

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Argyle Diamond Mine has worked with indigenous people for 10 years.

Rio Tinto is celebrating the 10th anniversary of its landmark Participation Agreement with the Gija and Miriuwung people – the Traditional Owners of its Argyle Diamond Mine, Australia.

Signed in 2004, the Participation Agreement provides Traditional Owners with active participation in the economic benefits of diamond mining in the East Kimberley region. It also gives the indigenous people of the area a voice in the mining decisions that affect their interests.

A ceremony at the Argyle Diamond Mine was attended by representatives of the Traditional Owners and Argyle Diamonds managing director Shane Johnson, with both parties reflecting on the success of the Participation Agreement.

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Johnson commented at the ceremony: “I am honoured to stand here today and acknowledge the importance and strength of the Participation Agreement as it continues to drive progressive change at the mine and also the way we manage our diamond business.

"Today, Argyle’s influence stretches into many spheres and over many continents but it is on the land of the East Kimberley region of Western Australia that the Traditional Owners have enabled the world to see indigenous engagement in a whole new light."

Miriuwung Traditional Owner and chairman of the Gelganyem Trust, Ted Hall, also spoke about the challenges faced in the early 1990s and the positive changes that he has witnessed in the local communities since the agreement was put in place.

The Argyle Participation Agreement remains one of the most comprehensive agreements ever made in Australia between a resource company and indigenous communities.

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