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Rio Tinto's iron ore operations secure

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PERTH, Feb 5 AAP

February 05 2013, 6:33PM

Mining giant Rio Tinto says its future iron ore operations are secure after it struck a land-use agreement with an indigenous group in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.

The latest agreement with the Yinhawangka traditional owners follows five similar settlements reached with other traditional owners in 2011.

The Yinhawangka are custodians of around one million hectares across the central Pilbara, taking in four existing iron ore mines and areas scheduled for future development.

This includes the Western Range, Turee Syncline, Western Turner Syncline section 17 and deposits near West Angelas.

Rio Tinto president of Pilbara Operations Greg Lilleyman said the agreements would ensure that the Aboriginal people of the Pilbara obtained intergenerational wealth and positive social outcomes as Rio's business grows.

"It will enable stability and business certainty for decades into the future, while helping create a future for Aboriginal people," Mr Lilleyman said.

Two agreements are still under negotiation with Pilbara traditional owners.

"When that process is completed Rio Tinto's entire sphere of operations across the Pilbara will be covered by consistent agreements which provide for decades of access, guardianship, mutual obligation and certainty," Rio said in a statement.

Land-use agreements developed with Aboriginal people in the Pilbara over the past eight years have covered land access, planning for mines as well as employment and training, business contracting and cultural heritage management.