Rio Tinto and the University of Western Australia (UWA) have signed a multi-million dollar partnership that will focus on creating a sustainable supply of graduates and expertise for the mining industry. In a ceremony held recently in Perth, Rio Tinto announced UWA as the first partner in its Global Education Partnerships Program. Rio Tinto will invest $3 million with UWA as part of a long-term objective to foster skills for the future and build education capability.

The program will establish a worldwide network of leading universities to generate and foster an appropriate expertise base for the resources industries.

The UWA partnership will be built around a series of education-related initiatives including a strong scholarship framework that will provide support and access to mining related education for more than 40 students. Supporting Rio Tinto and UWA’s focus on building a supply of diverse talent, the scholarship framework also aims to encourage more female, international and Indigenous students into these study areas.

Vice Chancellor of The University of Western Australia, Professor Paul Johnson, said the new Education Partnerships Agreement would extend a long and productive relationship with Rio Tinto. “Working with Rio Tinto has provided enormous benefits to the University and the Western Australian community,” Johnson said. “This partnership will provide a diverse group of scholars with access to real-life work environments and work experience, and increase the university’s attractiveness to potential students. Increasing the number of scholarships will take UWA closer to being counted among the top 50 universities in the world by 2050.”

Executive Director Rio Tinto Sam Walsh said he looked forward to strengthening the relationship with UWA to further enable young people to reach their true potential. “Aside from further developing our relationship with UWA, this program will increase Rio Tinto’s access to quality graduate and post-graduate students seeking mining industry careers,” Walsh said. “This partnership will focus on building career and learning opportunities and will establish a capacity of sustainable skills for the future benefit of the industry and the broader community.”

In 2012, Rio Tinto introduced more than 300 graduates into its business, joining the 4,000-plus graduate and post-graduate staff already employed in the increasingly high-tech operations.