Rio Tinto leader Ray Ahmat cuts a trail for others – by Sarah-Jane Tasker (The Australian – May 31, 2014)

RAY Ahmat, the first local Aboriginal superintendent at Rio Tinto Alcan’s bauxite mine in Weipa, has outlined the opportunities to develop local talent after taking out a top award at an industry function.

Mr Ahmat received the Overall Indigenous Award at the Queensland Resources Council’s Indigenous Awards last night for his contribution as a role model in the state’s sector.

He leads a large operational team of more than 170 people at the mine, on the Western Cape of York Peninsula in Queensland, managing pre-mining and post-mining activities.

Mr Ahmat, born and bred in the region, said his parents were strong role models in his life. His father had worked at the mine for 32 years and his mother spent 28 years at the operation.

“I got to where I am to seeing what they did,” he said. Mr Ahmat, who is a Yupungathi traditional owner, joined the miner 15 years ago as a truck driver before moving up the chain to superintendent — a path he hopes he can encourage others in his community to follow.

“The employment (at the mine) is great in trying to get the lifestyles changed in my people,” he said.

“I’m now in a position where I can have some influence in that.

“My family and I have strong connections with the land on which the business operates, and I feel a responsibility to build upon the foundation my parents and elders created.”

The greatest enjoyment he gets out of his role is mentoring young workers and seeing the impact the employment has on their lives.

“Changing their lifestyles for the better and improving their quality of life, when you see that first hand, that is fantastic, and then they are able to provide as they have their own families,” he said.

Weipa’s bauxite mine has Rio Tinto’s highest indigenous participation rate in Australia at 22 per cent.

Rio Tinto Alcan Weipa general manager, operations, Gareth Manderson said Mr Ahmat was a great ambassador for the business.

“His commitment to diversity as one of the key focus areas of our business has resulted in a 30 per cent indigenous participation across his team alone.”

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