MAC: Mines and Communities

Australia: ERA updates its agreement with traditional owners

Published by MAC on 2013-02-04
Source: Statement, AAP, Financial Review (2013-01-24)

To state that traditional owners are 'happy' with the deal, as the headline below states, seems to be overdoing it. However, enve if this is too little, too late at least there are attempts to negotiate with the local Mirrar landowners.

The next battle, however, will be on the expansion of the mine.

Previous article on MAC: Kakadu being poisoned by Rio Tinto mine, group warns

Traditional owners happy at mine deals

AAP

24 January 2013

AFTER 14 years of negotiations, Energy Resources of Australia Ltd (ERA) has signed agreements for the Ranger uranium mine that local Aboriginal people say gives them a better deal.

"The negotiations, which involved some very complex legal, cultural, and operational considerations, have taken many years and much hard work by all parties," said ERA chief executive Rob Atkinson.

The deals come after 14 years of talks between ERA and Mirarr traditional owners, the Northern Land Council and the federal government.

They cover existing operations at Ranger and historic issues that have been outstanding for years but not future plans for the open-cut mine, located in the Northern Territory's Kakadu National Park.

Mr Atkinson said the new deal heralded a strengthening of ties between his company and the Mirarr people, who are the traditional owners of the land.

In the past the Mirarr people have been critical of the way ERA has treated the land and feared damage to sacred sites by the miner.

"We the Mirarr are happy that today, after so long, we have a fairer agreement for mining at Ranger," said clan elder Yvonne Margarula.

"My father never agreed to Ranger. Our right to stop the mine was taken away by the government."

Under the new deals, Mirarr people will get a greater share of income from the mine and a trust will be set up to deliver social programs in the region.

Some aspects of the deals will be backdated.

A Relationship Committee will also be established to ensure better sharing of information between the Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation (GAC), which represents the Mirarr people.

There will also be better job opportunities and training for local Aboriginal people.

The new agreements don't include a deal on the company's 3 Deeps project, which ERA hopes will prolong the life of the Ranger operation by mining underground.

On current estimates, ERA will be forced to mine only stockpiles of ore within months, Mr Atkinson told AAP.

The underground operation is expected to support production once stockpiles are depleted in about 2021.

Northern Land Council chairman Wali Wunungmurra said it was pleasing to see ERA negotiating to give traditional owners true benefits from the mine.


Ranger uranium mine agreement updated

Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation Media Statement

24 January 2013

The Mirarr traditional Aboriginal owners of the Ranger uranium mine area welcome the settlement today of the long-running renegotiation of the 1978 Ranger mining agreement.

The execution today of a number of agreements and associated correspondence between the Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation (GAC), the Australian Government, miner Energy Resources of Australia (ERA) and the Northern Land Council signals the formal conclusion of a 14-year process of renegotiation.

Importantly, the agreements cover existing operations on the Ranger Project Area. They do not deal with future mining beyond the existing Ranger Authority or underground mining at the so-called Ranger 3 Deeps deposit beneath Pit 3.

The senior traditional owner of the Mirarr clan, Ms Yvonne Margarula, welcomed the end of negotiations about the original Ranger mine. "We Mirarr are happy that today, after so long, we have a fairer agreement for mining at Ranger," she said. "My father never agreed to Ranger. Our right to stop the mine was taken away by the government. It is good that after all these years we have a better agreement for Mirarr. This will help all Bininj [Aboriginal people] in the region."

The agreements, among other things, establish a new social trust to provide socio-economic initiatives to the region, and provide greater Mirarr input into Ranger's operation via a new relationship committee.
The finalisation of talks comes just two months after the ending of mining at Ranger Pit 3.

Last week ERA applied to the Australian Government to mine uranium at Ranger 3 Deeps, converting the current exploration tunnel to an operational mine. A decision has yet to be made.

The executive officer of the GAC, Justin O'Brien said, "These agreements update the provisions of the original and unfair agreement imposed on the Mirarr in 1978. Almost immediately after its signing the NLC sought to overturn that agreement, which led to 13 years of litigation. The renegotiation of that 35-year old agreement has taken 14 years and comes in the twilight years of Ranger's current operation," he said. "The agreements do, however, provide the Mirarr and others with firmer and fairer footing upon which to tackle the social disadvantage of Aboriginal people across the region. The agreements also formally underscore the improving relationship between the traditional landowners, the mining company and government."

Further information: Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation on 08 8979 2200


ERA signs Ranger agreements

Financial Review

24 January 2013

After years of negotiations, Energy Resources of Australia Ltd (ERA) and Aboriginal people have signed agreements for the Ranger uranium mine.

"The negotiations, which involved some very complex legal, cultural, and operational considerations, have taken many years and much hard work by all parties," ERA chief executive Rob Atkinson said in a statement on Thursday.

The deals come after 14 years of talks between ERA and Mirarr traditional owners, the Northern Land Council and the federal government.

They cover existing operations at Ranger and historic issues that have been outstanding for years but not future plans for the open-cut mine, located in the Northern Territory's Kakadu National Park. Under the new deals, Mirarr people will get a greater share of income from the mine and a trust will be set up to deliver social programs in the region.

A Relationship Committee will also be established to ensure better sharing of information between the Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation (GAC), which represents the Mirarr people.

There will also be better job opportunities and training for local Aboriginal people.

"ERA is strongly committed to recognising Mirarr rights and obligations, especially in regard to country and culture," Mr Atkinson said.

The new agreements don't include a deal for the company's 3 Deeps project, which ERA hopes will prolong the life of the Ranger mine by mining underground.

Northern Land Council NLC chairman Wali Wunungmurra said it was pleasing to see ERA negotiating to give traditional owners true benefits from the mine.

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