MAC: Mines and Communities

Aboriginal resistance to the Roxby Downs mine started some years before it opened, during the 1970s

Published by MAC on 2005-04-05

Aboriginal resistance to the Roxby Downs mine started some years before it opened, during the 1970s when the first coordinated campaigns between Aboriginal Australian activsits and anti-nuclear lobbies in Britain resulted in protests at the BP annual general meeting (BP was then WMC's partner in the huge copper-uranium project, but later withdrew). Joan Wingfield, a representative of the Kokatha People flew to London to lead the demand for land rights - one which was peremptorily denied by Britain's largest company.

Native title not to be overlooked in WMC takeover

David Satterthwaite

April 05, 2005

Democrat leader senator Lyn Allison has called on Canberra to not overlook native title claims in favour of big business in any WMC Resources takeover.

According to senator Allison, the Roxby Downs area in South Australia that houses the Olympic Dam mine has pending native title claims from the Bangarla and Kokatha peoples.

"Despite this, federal treasurer Peter Costello publicly backed a massive expansion of Olympic Dam and Xstrata's [and BHP Billiton's] takeover bid. The Government was quick to approve a foreign takeover, yet the fact the Roxby Downs land involved is still subject to a native title claim is not even being considered," senator Allison said.

The Democrats point to the court application by WMC Resources to bring the native title trial forward on the grounds of "commercial imperative" as evidence Aboriginal title claims are being steamrollered by business giants with Canberra standing on the sidelines.

"There is no way anyone would have enough time to properly prepare for trial or be in a position to negotiate with huge corporations on such short notice. The takeover bid is centred on financial implications while the indigenous claimants have been overlooked, as have the environmental implications of nuclear waste storage," said Allison.

"Any takeover of the mine with the intention of expanding should be based on the understanding that these claimants have significant rights and interests in this area which demand recognition, respect, and above all, a fair hearing."

The first hearing in the WMC Resources native title case will occur on 15 April 2005.

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