Rio Tinto looks to build on role in community

Alicia PereraPilbara News
Rio Tinto staff at the port facilities on East Intercourse Island, Dampier.
Camera IconRio Tinto staff at the port facilities on East Intercourse Island, Dampier. Credit: Pilbara News, Tom Zaunmayr

About a year after its launch, Rio Tinto’s Pilbara Local Voices survey is starting to show trends and is promoting better two-way conversations between the mining giant and members of the communities in which it operates, according to proponents.

Initial data from the CSIRO-backed survey was presented at community meetings in Pannawonica, Tom Price, Paraburdoo, Karratha and Wickham last month where residents could give their feedback.

So far, the survey has attracted 160 regular and 550 total respondents, involvement from 64 community groups and covered themes including shift roster structures, local procurement and technological change.

Rio Tinto managing director of rail, port and core services Ivan Vella said so far the data reflected a good level of community confidence in Rio, with trust in the company’s local procurement push especially starting to show, as well as areas that needed improvement.

“I think the onus is on us now to draw the insights, link the actions and demonstrate change, to try and really close that loop,” he said.

“We’re very happy with the relationship and we’re pleased that we’re getting the participation and interest and we want to keep building on it.”

CSIRO Local Voices project lead researcher Kieran Moffat said proponents were sharing data with regional stake-holders including local governments, not-for-profit organisations and community groups to better inform their work.

He said the next focus for the survey would be increasing engagement.

“In communities of this size, (current numbers) are solid and so the sample is large enough that we can make meaningful comparisons between towns,” he said.

“But if we can get more people involved, then we can do more sophisticated analyses on the data as a whole, and really get some quality insights.”

City of Karratha Mayor Peter Long said the survey had given the local government a better picture of community members’ wants and concerns.

A digital content strategy to promote the survey will be launched in coming months.

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