Speaking at its annual general meeting in Perth on Wednesday, Nev Power, CEO Fortescue Metals Group, highlighted the company’s continued performance in improving safety, productivity and efficiency, generating strong operating cash flows for ongoing debt reduction, and its aboriginal programs.

Outlining Fortescue’s results for the 2016 financial year, he noted that the company had improved its safety performance by 15%, while shipping 169.4 million metric tons of iron ore and reducing C1 costs by 43%.

“My sincere thanks to all of the Fortescue team for their contributions to the excellent outcomes achieved across our operations,” Power said. “We are well placed to continue this journey during FY17 through our clearly aligned strategy to optimize production, maximize efficiency and consistently deliver quality products, ensuring we remain at the lowest end of the global cost curve.”

Power and FMG board were joined at the AGM by the newest members of the company’s Leadership and Excellence in Aboriginal People (LEAP) program, a 12-month mentoring program designed to give motivated and high performing Aboriginal employees the opportunity to become leaders in their own right.

“We are committed to empowering generational change in aboriginal communities. Fundamental to this is inspiring and supporting our aboriginal leaders by providing long-term career paths and nurturing the talent of the next generation so they can be role models for their people,” Power said.

Rebecca Councillor, a process operator at Fortescue’s port operation, said she was honored to be selected for the LEAP program and to share this journey with her fellow aboriginal leaders.

“I am always trying to inspire others with my leadership journey, to help my people see that if you set yourself goals and put the hard work in, you can achieve anything you put your mind to,” Councillor said.

Fortescue’s LEAP started as a pilot program in November 2015 with 14 participants. Following the success of the pilot, the second LEAP intake started in November 2016. Of the 12 participants, 33% are women. Fortescue’s aboriginal employment rose to 15% of the workforce by the end of the September quarter. Fortescue and its contractors employ more than 1,100 aboriginal people across Fortescue sites.