ERA won't sign Jabiluka contractPublished by MAC on 2003-04-28
AAP, Sydney Morning Herald
28 April 2003
Uranium giant Energy Resources of Australia Ltd (ERA) says it will not be drawn into signing a new contract enforcing Aboriginal authority over its controversial Jabiluka mine.
ERA today faced calls from environmental groups for a legally binding document enforcing its promise to cease Jabiluka operations until the site's traditional owner, the Mirrar Gundjehmi clan, gives its consent.
Rio Tinto Ltd-controlled ERA has put on hold its Jabiluka operations, located in Northern Territory's Kakadu National Park, until the company reaches agreement from the Mirrar people.
It now mines one million tonnes of uranium ore each year from the adjoining Ranger site.
Spokesmen for both Friends of the Earth and the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF), speaking at ERA's annual general meeting in Sydney today, called for a legally binding instrument covering Aboriginal consent for Jabiluka.
The spokesmen also called for ERA to give a timetable for its rehabilitation of Jabiluka land.
ERA was "committed to in language but not committed to in process" its promise to honour Jabiluka agreements with the Mirrar people, Friends of the Earth's Bruce Thompson said.
ACF spokesman Dave Sweeney read a statement from Mirrar senior traditional owner Yvonne Margarula, calling for the legal commitment and rehabilitation.
"We want Rio Tinto and ERA to put that promise in writing," Ms Margarula's statement said.
"We want Rio Tinto and ERA to put the uranium they took from Jabiluka and put it back down the hole - we want them to do this during this dry season (Autumn-Winter)."
ERA chairman and Rio Tinto Australia managing director Brian Horwood told the AGM the future of Jabiluka depended on the outcome of ongoing discussions with the Mirrar people.
"They (discussions) will determine the future of that Jabiluka site," Mr Horwood said.
"I'm not going to stand here and give timetables."
ERA chief executive Bob Cleary later told AAP the Jabiluka site was purchased through a legally binding document which included consent from Aboriginal people.
Now, he said, the site's owners had "changed 180 degrees".