Rio Tinto should fill its 6,000 vacancies with Australians: Government

Australia's Federal Skills Minister, Chris Evans, said Rio Tinto (LON and NYSE: RIO) should focus on local workers when filling its 6,000 mining jobs, in what is considered the largest recruitment campaign in the country’s history.

The initiative, launched on Friday, aims to attract engineers, planners, geologists, operators, tradespeople and other workers to its 30 operations in Australia, mainly its West Australian sites, where the company already employs 10,000 people.

“I'd like to see Rio try and recruit as many workers locally as they can and I'd also like to make sure they're doing as much as they can to provide training opportunities for young Australians to take up those positions,” Evans was quoted as saying by Skynews.

Evans made the comments after launching an expanded WesTrac skills centre in Perth.

The centre will train 420 people for work in mining and construction, and was partially funded by the Government.

Rio is seeking to increase Pilbara’s capacity by 50% before 2013 to 353 million tonnes a year, creating the country’s largest integrated mining project.

As part of its marketing strategy, Rio has paid Olympic athletes to pose in recruitment advertisements and has set up a mining jobs hotline at 1300 MINING.

Earlier this week, new research showed tradespeople and labourers in Western Australia were earning up to four times more than workers in other states and abroad.

Rio Tinto’s plans for substantial expansions in the Pilbara, includes the approval, earlier this year, of US$3.4 billion worth of funding for its iron ore operations.

The company’s main competitors in the Pilbara region, BHP Billiton and Fortescue Metals Group, are also in the need for mining workers, and Rio’s new initiative is likely to spark even higher competition for employees.

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