Two Pilbara Aboriginal businesses have been awarded contracts worth a combined $179 million by Fortescue Metals Group.

The miner last week awarded contracts to Wirlu-murra Yindjibarndi Enterprises and EG WME JV, a joint venture of Wirlu-murra and Eastern Guruma, for works at its Solomon Hub iron ore mine, about 60km north of Tom Price.

The contracts are the largest Fortescue has awarded to entirely Aboriginal-owned businesses in its history.

Wirlu-murra Yindjibarndi, which is based in Roebourne, won a contract for maintenance of non-process infrastructure at Solomon.

EG WME was awarded a separate contract for road maintenance and resource definition services at the mine.

Both businesses have done similar work for Fortescue previously.

Fortescue chief executive Elizabeth Gaines said the company was proud to support the growth of Pilbara Aboriginal businesses.

“We are delighted to see Aboriginal businesses we have partnered with for some time grow and prosper,” she said.

“These contracts establish Wirlu-murra as one of the largest Aboriginal businesses in Australia and, significantly, empowers them to deliver further employment opportunities for Aboriginal people.”

Wirlu-murra Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation chairman Rodney Adams said the contract would provide further opportunities to empower its members.

“Through these business contracts with Fortescue, Wirlu-murra has been able to provide jobs to the Yindjibarndi people and support many local community organisations providing services to the Roebourne community,” he said.

“We look forward to continuing our close relationship with Fortescue to provide new opportunities to empower our people.”

Both contracts were awarded as part of Fortescue’s Billion Opportunities program.

The program is an initiative to grow employment opportunities for Aboriginal people and began in 2011.

Together, they bring the total value of contracts awarded by Fortescue to Aboriginal businesses and joint ventures to $2.3 billion.