MAC: Mines and Communities

Australia: Aboriginal community reject extension of Ranger mine

Published by MAC on 2015-10-19
Source: Statement, AAP

We have only recently published a story about a fire that Energy Resources of Australia (ERA) started within the Kakadu National Park that got out of control (see Australian 'uranium mine fire' in Kakadu National Park).

Even as the flames were being damped down, ERA was dealing with another - more existential - crisis. The Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation have confirmed that the Aboriginal Mirarr people cannot consider any possible extension to their authority to mine on the Ranger Project. Without their conesnt the mine will need to close in early 2021.

ERA has stated that it respects the opinions of the traditional owners, and will review its options accordingly.

Previous article on MAC: Energy Resources Australia pulls plug on expansion at Ranger

Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation press statement

15 October 2015

The Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation, on behalf of the Mirarr Traditional Owners of the Ranger Uranium Mine at Kakadu National Park, have this week advised Energy Resources of Australia that the Mirarr cannot consider any possible extension to the Authority to mine on the Ranger Project Area in the absence of support from ERA’s major shareholder, Rio Tinto.

Today’s announcement follows ERA’s statement on 11 June this year that the Ranger 3 Deeps project would not proceed to a final feasibility study and Rio Tinto’s statement on the same day that it does not support any development of the Ranger 3 Deeps project. Rio Tinto has offered a conditional credit facility for ERA to fund its rehabilitation requirements at Ranger. Shortly after these announcements all of ERA’s independent directors resigned from the company’s board, stating differing views with Rio Tinto on the future of the R3D project.

Since June 2015, the traditional owners have become increasingly concerned that the difference of views between ERA and Rio Tinto remained unresolved.

The GAC is in full agreement with the direction that Rio Tinto wants ERA to take. The Mirarr now require certainty that ERA has access to the funds necessary to discharge its rehabilitation obligations at Ranger. That rehabilitation must ensure that the Ranger Project Area is rehabilitated such that it can be incorporated into the World Heritage listed Kakadu National Park.

Rio Tinto’s positive relationship with the Mirarr traditional owners began with the resolution of the Jabiluka dispute and the 2005 Jabiluka Long-Term Care and Maintenance Agreement. This is the cornerstone for the support that the traditional owners have shown to the current operations at Ranger and also the reason the GAC felt comfortable to consider the possibility of underground mining at Ranger.

The GAC had been in regular talks with ERA since January 2015 regarding the possible extension of mining on the Ranger Project Area, on the understanding that the major shareholder, Rio Tinto, supported the R3 Deeps project.

The GAC now calls on ERA to secure Rio Tinto funding for the full cost of rehabilitation to ensure that there is no long term issue left to the cost of the Australian taxpayer and the community. This is required for not only the Ranger Project Area but also to manage the eventual closure of the Jabiluka Mineral Lease area (also held by ERA) at the end of ERA’s interest there.

For further information or comment call 08 8979 2200

Mirarr people reject ERA's Ranger mine


15 October 2015

Shares in Energy Resources of Australia have plunged more than 20 per cent after Kakadu's traditional owners rejected the miner's plans to expand development of the Jabiluka uranium deposit.

The community's opposition could mean the Rio Tinto-owned miner has to write down the value of its assets.

Shares in ERA fell 25 per cent to a low of 29 cents on Thursday, and were down eight cents at 30.5 cents at the session's close.

The company has authority for mining and processing activities at the Ranger mine, which lies inside Kakadu National Park, until January 2021, and is allowed access to carry out rehabilitation activities until January 2016.

ERA had hoped to extend the dates so it could develop the Ranger 3 Deeps underground deposit.

However the Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation, which acts for the Mirarr traditional owners, has formally told ERA that they are against any extension.

ERA said it will continue to process ore from existing stockpiles and will undertake a review of its business in light of the decision.

The company lost half its board earlier this year after it put on hold feasibility studies to mine the Ranger 3 Deeps deposit because of a sluggish uranium market.

ERA has said it would need to extend its operations beyond the present authority, which expires in 2021, for the project to proceed.

Rio Tinto has completely withdrawn its support for ERA's plans to mine the Ranger 3 Deeps underground deposit.

The Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation has previously demanded ERA produce a comprehensive plan for the clean-up of the site, which must be reintegrated into the surrounding national park by 2026


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