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Aborigines win veto on Kakadu uranium mining

Published by MAC on 2005-02-25

Aborigines win veto on Kakadu uranium mining

After an extended struggle and nation wide campaign in support of the traditional owners that involved a coalition of diverse Indigenous, environmental and social activists and groups, and included blockades against the mining operations, public actions against the company and its corporate shareholders, Energy Resources Australia signs a long awaited agreement recognising the rights of the indigenous owners to free, prior, informed consent.

Traditional owners given veto over Jabiluka mine

ABC News Online

February 25, 2005

Energy Resources of Australia (ERA) will sign an agreement today with the traditional owners of the Jabiluka uranium mine site, giving them the power to decide if and when the mine will reopen. The company says the agreement has ruled a line under past conflicts.

In 2003, ERA filled in the Jabiluka site in the Kakadu National Park and promised it would not mine there without Aboriginal consent.

ERA's Harry Kenyon-Slaney says today's agreement will give the Mirarr people the power to decide if and when the mine will re-open. "We've made no secret of the fact that in the longer-term we would like to develop the project of Jabiluka. "But this agreement provides the traditional owners the right to agree or not to agree to that project and I think that's right."

ERA signs Jabiluka uranium mine agreement

ABC News Online

February 25, 2005

A historic agreement on the future of the abandoned Jabiluka uranium mine site has been signed by traditional owners and mining company Energy Resources of Australia (ERA). In 2003, ERA filled in the Jabiluka site at Kakadu National Park and promised it would not mine there without Aboriginal consent.

The Gundjehmi Aboriginal Corporation representing the Mirarr people has described the signing as a "sweet victory". Traditional owners now have the deciding vote on future operations at the site.

Labor Senator for the Northern Territory, Trish Crossin, says she is confident traditional owners will not weaken their resolve and allow mining to recommence at the Jabiluka uranium mine. Senator Crossin says traditional owners will come under significant pressure to seek an alternative income when the Ranger uranium mine, also located within Kakadu, closes in 2010.

"We have to encourage those people to look at alternative revenue other than just to turn to another uranium mine," she said. "[We have] absolute confidence that those people will stand firm in their stead and they will be creative, they're very passionate people and they will look and turn to alternative income and I have no doubt in that."

Aborigines win veto on Kakadu uranium mining

February 25, 2005


Uranium miner Energy Resources of Australia will be allowed to further explore the valuable Jabiluka lease in Kakadu, but traditional Aboriginal landowners have the right to veto any future mining.

A historic deal between ERA and traditional Aboriginal landowners was finally signed off today, three years after it was originally mooted.

Stakeholders today said the deal heralded a new era of "healthy dialogue" between the mining company and Aborigines, after years of bitterness and acrimony.

ERA has pledged not to carry out any mining activity on the controversial Jabiluka Mineral Lease, in the Northern Territory, without the written consent of the traditional owners, the Mirarr people.

The company will have the chance to ask the traditional owners to consider a proposal for the Jabiluka mine every four years, beginning in the middle of next year.

"This is the end of a very long period of acrimony and conflict over the project that's known as Jabiluka," ERA chief executive Harry Kenyon-Slaney said. "We will not bulldoze through mining projects on other people's land."

Thousands of protesters rallied around Australia against the mine in the 1990s, with hundreds arrested during protracted demonstrations.

Uranium ore extracted has never been processed and sat in a stockpile at the site until late 2003 when it was returned inside the mine as part of this deal.

The Jabiluka mine decline was backfilled and the site cleaned up, and ERA's financial obligations to traditional owners were waived under the agreement.

However, with skyrocketing world uranium prices ERA remains hopeful the new friendlier communication between the two parties will eventually lead to the realisation of the Jabiluka resource.

Under the deal it will be allowed to explore the lease after giving traditional owners notice.

"We have the opportunity to explore elsewhere on the lease subject to granting the traditional owners notice," Mr Kenyon-Slaney said.

"At some point in the future we would like to do that, (but) we have no immediate plans."

There has been no further exploration of the prospective lease since 1982. He remained hopeful the Mirarr would be more open to allowing mining at Jabiluka in the future, perhaps when ERA's 25-year-old nearby Ranger mine and mill cease operation in 2011.

ERA has paid more than $207 million in royalties to traditional owners and governments for Aboriginal projects in Ranger's 25-year history.

"I don't know whether Jabiluka will go ahead in the future, it's ultimately up to the traditional owners to decide now," Mr Kenyon-Slaney said.

"But I feel that sometimes you have to take a step backwards before you take a couple of steps forward."

The Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation, which represents the Mirarr, said the deal was the "sweetest victory of all" in the long-running Jabiluka dispute.

"This heralds a new era of cooperation between mining companies and traditional owners right around the world in the way they do business on people's country," Gundjeihmi chief executive Andy Ralph said.

"The current view is that Jabiluka will not happen."

"There are a range of cultural and environmental concerns that have been a problem for the Mirarr for a number of years."

He said the Mirarr had been working on business development ahead of the anticipated wind-up of the Ranger mine in 2011.

Scrap uranium plans: Environmentalists


26th April 2005

Environmentalists have called on the French government to abandon attempts to develop a second uranium mine in Kakadu National Park.

French nuclear power company Cogema has said it will revive efforts to mine the multi-million-dollar Koongarra deposit once a five-year moratorium ends on Tuesday.

Traditional owners, through the Northern Land Council, imposed the ban on mining the deposit, 250km east of Darwin.

Cogema, owned by French energy giant Areva, has attempted to gain access to the deposit numerous times but has been blocked by traditional owners.

Energy Resources of Australia has mined the Ranger uranium deposit in Kakadu for more than 20 years.

The Koongarra deposit, discovered in 1971, contains about 14,000 tonnes of uranium oxide worth millions of dollars.

Five environmental groups said they had written to the French ambassador to Australia about the site in the world heritage-listed national park.

"The French government-owned company Areva is the proponent of this mine," the letter said.

"It has stated that it intends to seek development approval following the expiry on April 26, 2005, of the current development moratorium put in place as a result of the opposition of the area's traditional Aboriginal owners.

"We are appealing to the French government to reconsider its involvement in this most controversial project.

"An attempt by the French government to mine uranium in such a sensitive and internationally renowned natural and cultural heritage location would damage the reputation of France."

The environmentalists consist of the Environment Centre of the Northern Territory, the Australian Conservation Foundation, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and The Wilderness Society.

They believe the development would have a severe impact on wetlands of international significance, affect one of Kakadu's most popular areas Nourlangie Rock, and cause long-term problems of containment and rehabilitation of toxic and radioactive materials.

Ambientalistas piden que planes sobre uranio sean descartados



Australia - Ambientalistas exigen al gobierno de Francia que abandone sus planes de desarrollar una segunda mina de uranio en el Parque Nacional Kakadu.

La compañía de energía nuclear francesa, Cogema, ha dicho públicamente que hará esfuerzos para lograr explotar el multi millonario depósito Koongarra, una vez que la moratoria impuesta durante los últimos cinco años termine este martes.

Propietarios tradicionales, a traves del Consejo de la Tierra del Norte, impusieron la prohibición a la explotación del depósito, ubicado a 250km al este de Darwin.

Cogema, propiedad del gigante energético frances Areva, ha intentado lograr la explotación varias veces, pero siempre fue bloqueada por los propietarios tradicionales.

El yacimiento de uranio Koongarra fue descubierto en 1971 y contiene unas 14,000 toneladas.

Greens unite against mining Australia

By Suellen Hinde

April 27, 2005

NT and Australian environmentalists are calling on the French Government to stop its nuclear subsidiary, Areva, from developing a second uranium mine in Kakadu National Park.

French nuclear power company Cogema, owned by Areva, has said it wants to revive efforts to mine the Koongarra deposit near Nourlangie Rock.

A five-year moratorium on the site, 250km southeast of Darwin, imposed by traditional owners ended yesterday.

Cogema has tried to gain access to the deposit many times, but has been blocked by traditional owners.

Now the moratorium has ended, the company has signalled its intention to negotiate with traditional owners.

The clan responsible for the site is Djok-Gundjeitmi with the sole-surviving traditional owner, Jeffrey Lee, responsible for the decision. Mr Lee will be supported through any negotiation process by the Northern Land Council.

Five environmental groups - including Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth and the Wilderness Society - said yesterday they had written to the French ambassador about the site in the world-heritage-listed park.

They said the mine would harm wetlands of international significance and cause long-term problems in containing toxic and radioactive materials.

Greenpeace pide a Francia no explote uranio en Parque Nacional

Terra Actualidad - EFE


Greenpeace y otras organizaciones ecologistas australianas pidieron hoy, martes, al Gobierno francés que desista de explotar una mina de uranio en el Parque Nacional de Kakadu, declarado Patrimonio de la Humanidad por la UNESCO.

La petición trata de impedir que la firma Cogema, propiedad de la empresa pública gala de energía Areva, extraiga uranio en Koongarra, donde hoy finaliza la moratoria sobre la explotación conseguida hace cinco años por los aborígenes.

El depósito de Koongarra, a unos 250 kilómetros al este de Darwin, fue descubierto en 1971 y se calcula que contiene unas 14.000 toneladas de óxido de uranio.

La petición de los grupos ecologistas fue comunicada hoy por carta a la embajada de Francia en Camberra y está firmada por Greenpeace, The Wilderness Society, la Fundación Australiana para la Conservación, Amigos de la Tierra y el Centro Medio Ambiental del Territorio del Norte.

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