First Indigenous GM for Rio Tinto wins prestigious Qld award

  • Posted 30 November, 2020
  • Media Releases

30 November 20

Brad Welsh, Rio Tinto’s first Indigenous general manager of operations, has been named Exceptional Indigenous Person by Queensland’s resources sector.

The award was presented by the Queensland Resources Council (QRC) at its seventh annual awards in a virtual presentation featuring keynote speaker Fiona Jose, Chief Executive Officer at Cape York Partnerships.Entertainment was provided by much-loved musician Troy Cassar-Daley and the event featured an address by Dr Jackie Huggins, a Bidjara/Birri Gubba Juru woman and staunch Indigenous peoples’ advocate.

“Brad’s is an amazing story of achievement and the resources sector is very proud and fortunate to have him within our ranks,” QRC Chief Executive Ian Macfarlane said today.

“Our Indigenous Awards enable us to highlight exceptional Indigenous people such as Brad who is a valuable role model to young Indigenous people,” he said.

“It’s been a long journey for Brad, a NSW Muruwari man, who was born and grew up in the Aboriginal community of Redfern.

“Starting his working life as a community worker in NSW, Brad worked in the Prime Minister’s office followed by stints in the offices of the NSW Premier and NSW Planning Minister, where his interest in mining and its social and economic benefits to regional communities was piqued.

“In 2011, Brad started his mining career with Rio Tinto at Northparkes, and he hasn’t looked back since.

“I congratulate Brad, who as well as his work achievements, has earned a significant collection of academic achievements including a Bachelor of Welfare (Aboriginal Community Studies), Bachelor of Laws and a Masters in Mining Engineering (Mine Management).

”When Northparkes was divested from Rio Tinto, Brad was offered a role in Queensland and joined Rio Tinto’s Weipa operations.

Over the past seven years Brad has held a number of senior leadership roles in Weipa, including Community Relations Manager, East Weipa Operations Manager, Weipa North Operations Manager, Acting General Manager of Operations and now Chief Advisor to the CEO on Indigenous AffairsHe is also the Inclusion & Diversity chairperson for Weipa’s operations, where he supports the 40 percent of employees who are either Indigenous, female or both.

“Curiosity has driven me my whole career; trying to understand how things work. I was that kid who asked those annoying ‘why’ questions!” Brad said.

“Rio Tinto has such a large investment position in Aboriginal communities across Australia and the world, so I was curious to find out what makes mining ‘tick’ and how I could help bring the two worlds together.

“We have a real opportunity to bring the world’s oldest living culture into one of the newest economies for the benefit of both.

“That has certainly driven me over the last decade, and now even more so in my new role helping to rebuild relationships with the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura people in Western Australia.

“I’m incredibly thankful to my family, my colleagues and leaders that have led me while at Rio Tinto who have all helped shape who I am today.”

Brad is Rio Tinto’s most senior Indigenous employee.

QRC thanks major sponsors Rio Tinto and Evolutinon Mining, as well as Thiess, Glencore, Anglo American, Hastings Deering, Shell-QGC, Australian Pacific LNG, Bravus, Ventia, Mine Super and QCoal.

Media enquiries: Caroline Morrissey 0417 770 893