Woodley comments don't reflect board: FMG
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PERTH, Nov 28 AAP
November 28 2012, 8:38PM
The chairman of a native title claimant group who criticised Fortescue Metals for pushing its way onto land in WA's Pilbara region doesn't represent the Aboriginal group, the miner says.
Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation (YAC) on Wednesday claimed that Bruce Woodley, the chairman of breakaway claimant group Wirlu-Murra Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation (WMYAC), had backed up recent controversial statements made by solicitor Kerry Savas on ABC's 7.30 Report.
Mr Savas, a lawyer who worked for WMYAC and whose fees were paid by Fortescue, claimed the breakaway group was hastily formed to shore up support for the company's Solomon mine at a "rigged" meeting in Roebourne, Western Australia last year.
YAC claimed in a statement that Mr Woodley was "incensed" that the WMYAC board had been "stage-managed by Fortescue operatives", who had a hand in "guiding litigation" between the rival groups.
Fortescue director of external affairs Deidre Willmott said the company did not know why Mr Woodley made the comments.
"The WMYAC board has advised us that they were not aware that they were being made and do not agree with them," Ms Willmott said.
Mr Woodley was not immediately available for comment.
But his nephew Michael Woodley told AAP he imagined his uncle had become disillusioned with Fortescue.
"I haven't spoken to him about this but I can only speculate that he's run the marathon on the FMG promise of prosperity, community wellbeing, employment and training, and other stuff that they put on the table, and nothing's changed in the community," Michael Woodley said.
"I see nothing coming through. I live in Roebourne on a day-to-day basis.
"All I see is an FMG agenda in Roebourne that has been abrogated by a few individuals of that breakaway group."
But Ms Willmott said Fortescue was delivering on its promises.
It had so far provided jobs to 61 people from Roebourne, 14 of whom were living in 11 houses supplied by the company in the town and also in Karratha.
The company was also providing training for "guaranteed jobs" at its Roebourne facility as its mine expansions ramped up, she said.
Aboriginal people comprised 10.4 per cent of the company's workforce, a figure nearly matched by its contractors, Ms Willmott added.
"We had awarded 80 contracts and subcontracts totalling $546 million to Aboriginal contractors and joint ventures by the end of the September quarter, with a target to increase this to $1 billion by the end of 2013," Ms Willmott said.
She also said Mr Savas had been "removed from Roebourne" after working for WMYAC and was now employed by rival iron ore company Sinostralis Resources.
"He has not disclosed what he or his employer stand to gain from involvement in Yindjibarndi affairs but we assume there is a commercial interest," Ms Willmott said.
YAC will hold a press conference about its latest claims in Perth on Thursday.
WMYAC accepted a financial package from Fortescue in exchange for the right to develop the Solomon project after YAC rejected a deal with the mining company, saying it was too low.
By Rebecca Le May