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Kellie Hill, finding the middle country

Kellie Hill’s story lies at the very heart of Australia’s mining boom. Her business Kellie Hill Consulting (KHC) is a legal consultancy specialising in native title and heritage approvals for mining projects. Their job is to find the middle ground between the traditional owners and her clients, the mining companies.

She started the business 9 years ago after a stint with the Ngaanyatjarra Council working with native title claimants around Warbuton in the far east of WA. She saw the process between the mining companies and Aboriginal landowners as unnecessarily adversarial and full of conflict.

Negotiated outcomes

KHC’s point of difference is they offer a negotiated outcome, as opposed to a litigated one. Kellie saw that, handled correctly, both sides have something to gain. The mining companies are flocking to her door as a result. They know she has built trust and respect with the Aboriginal groups and can ensure their project goes ahead without delays. Delays can cost mining companies a lot of money on projects of this size.

On the other side, the Aboriginal elders know they can trust Kellie to protect significant sacred sites, including burial grounds and rock art sites, while providing fair and adequate compensation, education and training opportunities.

Business is booming

At the moment she is working on a project for North West Infrastructure. This alliance of small mining companies is working on getting rail access to transport their iron ore from Newman to Port Hedland. Up here the rail lines are privately owned by the bigger mining companies. So it’s an important project for the mining alliance and a huge undertaking for Kellie, with over 400kms of rail to negotiate. She needs to consult with all the different Aboriginal groups and elders from the respective ‘country’ involved and ensure the project will not go through sacred sites.

“I’m pro-business because it brings opportunities and progress. But I’m also pro-the traditional owners. If both sides win, then we’ve helped find the right balance.”

KHC is booming. Growing at 80% per annum Kellie’s battling to handle her rapid business growth and associated overheads, especially as she’s out of the office more than ever. Visa Business helps her run the business from the remote north-west of Australia. She uses it for all her travel expenses and to pay for things like petrol in the middle of nowhere. It makes it easy for staff back in the office to pay bills and track and reconcile her expenses, without affecting her cash flow.

To see how Visa Business helps Kellie get business done and discover the mile-long trains and magnificent landscape of the Pilbara go to visa.com.au/gobiz

Natalie Tsirimokos

Natalie Tsirimokos

Digital Editor of Dynamic Business

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