The number of Indigenous people working on major mining projects in Western Australia has skyrocketed over the past five years.
In the resource-rich Pilbara region, big companies like Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton, Chevron and Fortescue Metals are keen to hire as many Aboriginal people as they can, and they are keen to work.
Brendon Kelly is a 40-year-old Indigenous man with five children living in Port Hedland.
BK, as he is known to his mates, decided three years ago he wanted to be a part of the biggest mining boom the country has ever seen.
He undertook a course with Ngarda Civil and Mining, one of the largest Indigenous training groups, and now works as a drill and blast engineer at BHP's Yarrie iron ore mine, about 200 kilometres north-east of Port Hedland.
"There are four Aboriginal people on our crew, it's pretty multicultural out here on site at the moment," he said.
"It's a really good thing, the more the better." BK is urging others to consider getting training.
"There's better security and independence for yourself and your family," he said.
"The fact that you've done a good day's work and come pay day, you've got the money to organise things for your children, is even better." Osmond Dingo is an Indigenous, fly in-fly out worker at a Rio Tinto iron ore mine in Paraburdoo.
He completed an eight-week TAFE course before enrolling in a traineeship program with Rio Tinto.
"They're very good people, they look after you up here," he said.
"There are a couple of other local boys from here doing this, there's two from a community just out of Tom Price and two from Tom Price." Like Mr Kelly, he is telling his family and friends to get involved.
Numbers In the mid 1990s, less than half a percent of Rio Tinto's workforce was Indigenous.
It's now the largest private employer of Aboriginal people in the country.
Last year, it employed 1,100 Aboriginal people, representing 11 per cent of its overall workforce in WA; 400 more than two years ago.
Rio says it hopes Indigenous people will be 20 per cent of its total workforce by 2015.
BHP Billiton employs 10,000 people in the Pilbara, with just under 1,000 of those Aboriginal; 300 more than in early 2010.
Fortescue Metals Group has also seen a large increase in the number of Indigenous employees in the past two years, from 175 to 412.
They represent about 10 per cent of its total workforce.
Thirty per cent of the people working on the group's port operations in the Pilbara are Aboriginal while the company has a target of employing a total of 500 in the near future.
Michael Woodley, from the Yindjinbarndi Aboriginal Corporation in Roebourne, says it wasn't always like this.
"If you look back a few decades, that's where you would see the big difference where our people were left right out of the opportunities of the mining developments," he said.
In 2008, BHP awarded Ngarda a $300 million contract to run operations at its Yarrie mine, the largest mining contract ever awarded to an Aboriginal company.
Ngarda's Ricky Osborne says since then, the group has employed more than 2,000 Aboriginal people from the Pilbara and other parts of the state.
"The picture is very bright at the moment and in the future for Aboriginal participation right across the Pilbara," he said.
"This wave of Indigenous inclusion is a relatively new phenomenon in the industry.
"We've now come to a situation where there is a good deal of demand for Aboriginal employees and we're actually finding that companies are competing for available Indigenous labour." Mr Woodley says that's good news for everybody involved.
"From some of those numbers and statistics, it looks very good, I was surprised myself," he said.
"It's not 20 or 50 or 80 people, it's hundreds of Aboriginal people being employed right across the Pilbara in mining operations.
"I think it's fantastic." Drawbacks However, the recent surge is not without its drawbacks.
Mr Osborne says there is an impact on local Indigenous communities.
"The industry has drawn in a lot of skilled, experienced and qualified Aboriginal people from the community services sector which has created problems in itself for a lot of communities," he said.
"Those skills have been obviously taken out of the community and now sit within the mining industry." He says, however, so long as Aboriginal people are being employed, the good outweighs the bad.
"The most striking change has been the elevation of the Aboriginal socio-economic status which is bringing about changes in terms of children's participation at school," he said.
"It's presenting role models for kids to look up to.
"It's reduced a lot of the social and health problems for a lot of Aboriginal people." Mr Osborne says mining companies are also now more accepting of cultural obligations.
"I think there have been some real shifts in terms of mining companies embracing and accepting cultural diversity within the workplace," he said.
"They are accepting that a lot of Aboriginal people are still required to practice culture and take leave with pay arrangements put in place.
"That's been a very important incentive and retention strategy to keep Aboriginal people within their companies because they're able to maintain a full time job while attending to those very important cultural responsibilities." Ownership Looking to the future, Mr Woodley says there is a lot more to be achieved.
"I think the end game would need to be Indigenous people from the Pilbara start running their own mining operations," he said.
"I'm thinking another decade down the track; we need to put ourselves in a position where there will be no more excuses but for us to actually operate one of these mines 100 per cent Indigenous." The Minister for Mining and Petroleum, Norman Moore, says there are great opportunities for Indigenous people in the Pilbara.
"I think if you look at all of the industries in this country, I suspect the mining industry provides significantly more jobs for Aboriginal people than any other industry." He agrees there will be a day where Indigenous people can run their own mining operations.
"I hope there will come a time when that might, in fact, happen because the mining industry is an industry that's very keen on Indigenous employment and will go out of its way to give them every opportunity." Mr Kelly is in good spirits about life ahead and believes any Aboriginal person with the determination can do it.
"I had absolutely no experience, never," he said.
"Put your blinkers on and look forward, not back."