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They are the spine on which a significant portion of the world’s seaborne iron trade is channelled to the huge and lucrative markets of China, Japan and South Korea.
BHP’s rail lines might not be the flashiest part of the mining behemoth’s sprawling and singularly important iron ore network, but their importance was underscored on Tuesday.
In an announcement alongside Premier Mark McGowan, BHP’s iron ore boss Edgar Basto travelled to Port Hedland to reveal the miner would hire 15 rail apprentices and trainees.
The commitment forms part of a move by the global Australian to double its intake of apprenticeships and traineeships to 200 in 2018 while being a nod to the McGowan Government’s focus on creating WA jobs.
Mr Basto said the commitment, which was made at the metal workshop classroom of Hedland Senior High School, was a “great example” of business and the community working together to deliver mutual benefits.
According to Mr Basto, the Port Hedland railway network was a crucial strategic link in BHP’s iron ore supply chain that needed constant maintenance and oversight.
He said Port Hedland provided an ideal recruiting ground for workers including those who would be needed to service railway infrastructure.
Premier Mark McGowan and Hedland Senior High School student Janelle Wheate.Picture: Sophia Constantine/North West TelegraphTo help, BHP has also donated 53m of railway track at an estimated cost of $280,000 for the students to practice their skills.
“It will allow us and the school to develop skills in the young people of Port Hedland,” Mr Basto said.
Mr McGowan hailed BHP’s commitment as a win-win for the community and the company, saying it was only fitting that “West Australians are the beneficiaries of West Australian industries”.
“Learning the skills to repair, to maintain, to diagnose railways is very important because our rail network is crucial to our mining, our agriculture and other industries across Western Australia,” he said.
This article first appeared on thewest.com.au
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