Northern Territory okays Jabiluka clean-upPublished by MAC on 2003-08-01
Northern Territory okays Jabiluka clean-up
1 August 2003
The Melbourne Age
The Northern Territory government has given the go-ahead for a clean- up of the controversial Jabiluka uranium mine, ending a long row which pitted conservation groups and Aboriginal people against mining company ERA.
Under the clean-up program, ERA (Energy Resources Australia) will backfill the 1.8 kilometre decline located next to the world heritage- listed Kakadu National Park in the Northern Territory.
ERA, majority owned by mining giant Rio Tinto, will retain the lease on the mine but will sign a formal agreement with traditional owners, the Mirrar people, undertaking no future development without their explicit permission.
ERA Chief Executive Bob Cleary welcomed the NT government's approval of the company's plan.
"I am pleased that Resources Minister Paul Henderson has approved our care and maintenance plan. We made the application to the minister after extensive discussions and careful consideration of social, economic and environmental issues," he said in a statement.
"The traditional owners of Jabiluka, the Mirrar people, have told us they want the backfilling of the decline. This step is evidence of a new era of cooperation with the Mirrar."
Environment groups and the local people welcomed the move.
Australian Conservation Foundation president Peter Garrett said ERA had listened to the wishes of the traditional owners and recognised the concerns of the many Australians who opposed the mine.
"As a first step we think it is highly significant and represents a real win for the conservation and traditional owners' campaign," he told AAP.
"There is a very strong case to be put subsequent to this agreement being settled with the traditional owners for Rio to consider the long term prospects of the mine and once they have filled in the hole, agree to relinquish the lease.
"ACF has been arguing for over 25 years that uranium mining in our most important and internationally recognised national park is an anomaly."
Andy Ralph, executive officer of the Gundjehmi Aboriginal corporation, said the Mirrar welcomed the NT government's approval of the plan and applauded ERA for this initiative.
"It is heartening to see that finally the opposition of traditional owners to Jabiluka's development has at long last been acknowledged and acted upon by ERA," he said in a statement.
"This action signals a new and constructive relationship between the traditional owners and ERA which should be confirmed in the near future with the signing of the so-called Jabiluka long term care and maintenance agreement."
ERA acquired the Jabiluka mine, one of the world's richest uranium ore deposits, from mining company Pancontinental in 1991 for $125 million.
This story was found at: http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2003/08/01/1059480536321.html