according to the Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations, mining is returning millions to Aboriginal owned corporations. Western Australia’s Pilbara is the engine room of the nation’s mining boom. But the two billion years old 400,000 square kilometres Pilbara is home to some pretty sad poverty, all of it First Peoples – Roebourne and Wickham for starters, and any of the cluster of communities around Marble Bar, Tom Price, Nullogine, Port Hedland.
Port Hedland is Australia’s busiest port, with ships leaving daily filled with iron ore extracted from Aboriginal land but with the profits returned to multinationals – next-to-nothing for the communities where many of the native title claimants live . Native title owners? A fool’s gold many say.
But if not billions of dollars there are millions of dollars going the way of Aboriginal corporations. Continue reading
Coniston massacre: Nigel Scullion returns site to traditional owners 86 years after killings 7 News, ANTHONY STEWART October 9, 2014, The site of Australia’s last recorded massacre of Aboriginal people has been returned to its traditional owners.
Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion travelled to Yurrkuru 274 kilometres north-west of Alice Springs to present native title deeds to traditional owners.
Here, in 1928, up to 100 Aboriginal people were killed near the Coniston cattle station in reprisal for the death of a white man. The murders later became known as the Coniston massacre.
Warlpiri and Anmatyerr people welcomed Senator Nigel Scullion on to their land with traditional song and dance.
Senior Anmatyerr man Teddy Long said generations of his family had been fighting to have the massacre acknowledged and the land returned. “My old man, my father been explaining to me what happened to me, the shooting days,” he said.
“In the massacre days many people were killed here and that’s why [I've] been fighting real hard for this land”
Land returned decades after Land Rights claim Traditional owners initially lodged a claim under the Aboriginal Land Rights Act for the land in 1985………
In 1928 The prime minister at the time, Stanley Bruce, launched an a board of inquiry into the actions of police and pastoralists.
It ruled the police had “acted in self-defence”……https://au.news.yahoo.com/a/25219778/coniston-massacre-nigel-scullion-returns-site-to-traditional-owners-86-years-after-killings/
“The writing is on the wall for Rio – post-Fukushima the uranium commodity price is at an historic low, the global market outlook shows no signs of recovery and the company continue to lose millions at Ranger mine every year. NT and Commonwealth regulators need to use the Ranger 3 Deeps EIA process to take a sobering look at the mine’s struggling financial position, it’s poor worker safety, nuclear security and environmental record and use this opportunity to close the door on this costly and contaminating trade for good.”
7 Oct 14 The Environment Centre has vowed to contest any new uranium mining in Kakadu National Park and called on Rio Tinto to commit to a comprehensive closure and rehabilitation plan for Ranger uranium mine. The call coincided with an international day of action on October 7th with trade unions, communities and Indigenous groups protesting to highlight the health, environment and social impacts of Rio Tinto’s multinational mining operations.
Rio Tinto and subsidiary Energy Resources of Australia are currently seeking an approval to develop a new underground uranium deposit, Ranger 3 Deeps, despite recent claims that the company is unwilling to take responsibility for the $600 million plus clean-up costs from its open pit operation.
Rio’s Chief Executive Sam Walsh has repeatedly refused to take responsibility for rehabilitation, most recently at the company’s Melbourne AGM, suggesting instead that its subsidiary Energy Resources of Australia, 68% owned by Rio should bear sole responsibility despite its weak financial position.
Lauren Mellor from the Environment Centre NT said “We are supporting the international call today to hold Rio Tinto to account for its appalling track record on environmental, social and industrial safety issues. Here in the NT Rio’s Ranger uranium mine has recorded over 200 license and security breaches, spills, and accidents in its 30 year history. Continue reading
Dave Sweeney, 6 Oct 14 Today’s announcement that Energy Resources of Australia (ERA) has lodged its Environmental Impact Statement for underground mining (the Ranger 3 Deeps or R3D project) at its embattled Ranger uranium mine in Kakadu raises serious concerns about the project’s environmental impacts and economic viability, the Australian Conservation Foundation said today.
This application faces significant procedural and market hurdles and will be actively contested by national and NT environment groups.
“Uranium mining at Ranger has been the source of headlines, heartache and hazard for years but all mining and mineral processing ends in January 2021 when a mandated rehabilitation and closure process commences. ERA faces a serious management challenge to rehabilitate the Ranger site to a standard suitable for inclusion in the surrounding World Heritage listed Kakadu National Park”, said ACF nuclear free campaigner Dave Sweeney.
“Ranger 3 Deeps would add considerable cost and complexity to this challenge. Instead of literally digging itself into a deeper hole ERA and parent company Rio Tinto should be advancing a comprehensive clean-up and closure program at Ranger”.
“ERA runs a failing mine in a fragile place. Kakadu deserves the highest protection and ERA requires the highest scrutiny. Instead of promises and plans to go underground Rio Tinto needs to ensure its under-performing subsidiary ERA meets its rehabilitation requirements in time and in total. After decades of being able to mine and mill Rio Tinto must not now be allowed to cut and run”.
Concerns around the planned R3D project include:
- the projects impact on the required rehabilitation of the Ranger site (note: ERA’s authority for mining and mineral processing expires in January 2021)
- doubts over the capacity of ERA and the commitment of parent company Rio Tinto to fund required rehabilitation works at Ranger. The former mine will need to be rehabilitated to a standard suitable for inclusion in the surrounding World Heritage listed Kakadu National Park. This complex and costly task is being actively undermined by the lack of certainty surrounding rehabilitation financing. Rio Tinto argue they have no legal obligation to do the job, while ERA say they do not have the money. One corporation lacks commitment, the other capacity and Kakadu is held to ransom.
- uncertainty surrounding the safety and adequacy of related infrastructure at the Ranger site (most starkly highlighted by the collapse of a leach tank and spill of overa million litres of radioactive and acidic slurry in December 2013)
- ERA’s poor operational history which has seen over 200 leaks, spill, licence breaches and incidents at the Ranger mine and detailed concerns raised over the adequacy of the mine’s regulatory regime.
- The poor uranium commodity price post Fukushima – a continuing nuclear crisis directly fuelled by Australian uranium – ERA’s revenue has been steadily declining and net profit after tax has been negative in the last three years (2011-13). There is a real concern that falling costs will lead to ERA cutting corners.
Context and comment: Dave Sweeney, ACF – 0408 317 812
Traditional owners scrutinise environment plan for Ranger uranium mine SMH October 6, 2014 Angela Macdonald-Smith The traditional owners of the Ranger uranium mine will look carefully at a draft environmental impact statement for an underground expansion lodged by Energy Resources of Australia on Friday, says Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation chief executive Justin O’Brien.
He said the group, which represents the Mirarr people, would “weigh up the cultural, social and environmental considerations that will bring to bear on our decision-making”.
Rio Tinto-controlled ERA has pressed ahead with the potential expansion of the mine, near Kakadu, despite heightened fears among traditional owners over safety and health since a radioactive leak at the site late last year.
Chief executive officer Andrea Sutton said the company would “continue to seek their support” for the Ranger 3 Deeps project, which could start producing ore in December 2015……concerns over safety and health were still high since a leach tank accident last December and due to “the history of leaks and spills and accidents over many decades”.
ERA does not technically need the backing of the Mirarr traditional owners to go ahead with the underground mine, but Ms Sutton said “we certainly are seeking their support”.
Mr O’Brien said the economic dependence of Jabiru and the Mirarr people on Ranger, as well as cultural considerations would come into play in the Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation’s decision, alongside the environmental issues.
The open pit at Ranger has already been depleted and is being re-filled, leaving ERA dependent on the processing of low-grade ore for production until production starts from any underground mine.
However, some analysts have voiced doubts about the underground project after ERA warned earlier this year that geotechnical conditions at the site were “less favourable than assumed”, leading to expectations it could cost more than originally anticipated.
Ms Sutton said it was too early to estimate costs for the underground project for which a pre-feasibility study is due for completion by the year-end. It is then due to be considered by the board in the first quarter of 2015……..
Making the project more difficult is the weak uranium price, which has recovered from this year’s low of $US28 ($32) to about $35 but still remains less than half of the level most analysts say is required for a new green-field mine.
However, Ranger Deeps would be a brown-field expansion and Ms Sutton said ERA was not in any case counting on a material lift in the price until “mid to late this decade”. http://www.smh.com.au/business/mining-and-resources/traditional-owners-scrutinise-environment-plan-for-ranger-uranium-mine-20141005-10qhbd.html#ixzz3FOVx41Yf
NT cattleman offers to host nuclear waste dump 6 Oct 14 “…….recently Federal Resources Minister Ian Macfarlane has been looking at pastoral leases, and his problem could soon be over.
A Northern Territory cattleman, John Armstrong, from Gilknockie Station, 250 kms south of Katherine, says he’s willing to have the nuclear waste dump built on his property. Why? Because it’s a money spinner………
But something’s not right here. There’s no way in the world I would buy meat from a supermarket or a butcher if I had the slightest suspicion it was produced on the same property housing a nuclear waste dump. It’s just not cricket.
To date, Mr Armstrong hasn’t been in touch with the federal minister but he’s watching and waiting for a government announcement for interested parties to apply……http://annamariacom.blogspot.com.au/
Northern Territory land councils race clock to nominate a radioactive dump site, NT News BY ZACH HOPE OCTOBER 04, 2014 TRADITIONAL owners are racing against the clock to nominate a site to house Australia’s nuclear waste before the Federal Government opens the process to a national tender.
Traditional owner Geoffrey Wangapa Barnes, from the Ngatijirri clan of the Tanami Desert, said about 50 of 60 traditional owners gave in-principle support for a site northwest of Yuendumu during a meeting with Commonwealth staff and scientists last month.
It comes as the Northern Land Council continues its talks with traditional owners of the Muckaty Land Trust for a nomination north of the controversial site scuttled in June because of clan and family divisions.
Mr Barnes, a delegate of the Central Land Council, said traditional owners were left confused when the desert meeting ended without a compensation package put on the table.
It prompted him to email Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion but he said he received no response.
Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane, who has responsibility for finding the radioactive waste site, said the department staff were only at the meeting to explain the issue and not negotiate a package.
“They (the traditional owners) need to write to me and put their case but they haven’t done that,” he said…….
Mr Barnes and his uncle, ousted CLC chairman Maurie Japarta Ryan, have called for another meeting between traditional owners, scientists and the Government before the next CLC meeting in the first week of November.
Despite an arbitrary deadline expiring on September 30, the land councils still have exclusive rights to nominate a site until November 10, when Mr Macfarlane will open a tender to groups anywhere in Australia. …….http://www.ntnews.com.au/news/northern-territory/northern-territory-land-councils-race-clock-to-nominate-a-radioactive-dump-site/story-fnk0b1zt-1227079798955
Adam Giles may offer NT nuclear waste site if traditional owners fail to nominate location 105.7 ABC Darwin By Rick Hind 1 Oct 2014, NT Chief Minister Adam Giles has suggested his Government may put up a site for a national nuclear waste dump if traditional owners fail to nominate one.
Traditional owners in the Northern Territory were asked to nominate their land for a nuclear waste facility by September 30.
Federal Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane had indicated that if a site was not nominated, a selection process involving land owners from anywhere else in the country would start in November……..
“We haven’t decided whether we will at the moment, but I think we will look at it if the land councils don’t nominate a site,” he said…….
“Potentially it’s an economic opportunity for the Territory, but it’s also an opportunity for the Northern Territory to show leadership on the national stage about where to store nuclear waste,” Mr Giles said……..
However, Mr Giles added that any discussion of a possible location for a waste facility was jumping the gun.
“Let’s not get too far in this argument because we haven’t done all the analysis at this stage,” he said……..
The Northern Land Council and the Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane have declined to comment until the nomination deadline passes. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-09-30/giles-may-offer-up-nuclear-waste-site-if-traditional-owners-dont/5779394
Members of Ngapa Aboriginal clan complain about ‘obstruction’ to their volunteering to host nuclear waste
Pro-nuclear owners accuse land council of holding them back Amos Aikman THE AUSTRALIAN OCTOBER 01, 2014 THE Northern Land Council has blocked Aboriginal economic advancement by “obstructing” traditional owners’ attempts to gain millions of dollars in development aid by hosting nuclear waste on their land at Muckaty Station, according to a formal complaint obtained by The Australian.
A three-month window for Aboriginal land councils to bid exclusively to host a nuclear waste dump in the Northern Territory expired last night with no nominations. The window was established in June after the NLC controversially withdrew a longstanding nomination to host Australia’s nuclear waste at Muckaty Station near Tennant Creek.
Anti-nuclear groups at the time hailed the decision as a victory. But members of the Ngapa clan, who are part of the Muckaty Land Trust and have not hitherto spoken publicly, told The Australian they were not properly consulted and are now contemplating taking multi-million-dollar legal action.
The group has since been trying to nominate a second site at Muckaty Station, under development since 2012 and believed to be on undisputed Ngapa land. The Australian has seen a petition dated in June, purportedly signed by 59 traditional owners, expressing support for a new nomination.
The NLC is legally obliged to act on behalf of traditional owners. But according to a formal complaint sent to Minister for Indigenous Affairs Nigel Scullion earlier this month, it has “failed to take any meaningful action” to support the second nomination, leading to an “impending loss of opportunity” for the Ngapa people.
Jason Bill, one of the aggrieved parties named in the complaint, told The Australianit had been a “tough road” for his family, which began moves to host a nuclear waste dump in 2005.
It is estimated traditional owners could gain between $12 million and $20m in compensation.
The complaint requests “urgent consideration is given to the unique circumstances of our clients who are currently being obstructed by the NLC from making an urgent new nomination”……..
Senator Scullion told The Australian shortly after receiving the complaint that the allegations were “of the most serious nature … and we are seeking advice on how best to investigate and pursue the matter. The traditional owners say they’ve been aggrieved by the actions of a commonwealth authority,” he said.
“This is a matter of mischief by a commonwealth authority.”
NLC chief executive Joe Morrison said his organisation had acted properly and was being thorough.
“(The Ngapa) approved dropping the original bid … I think we consulted with them appropriately.” http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/indigenous/pronuclear-owners-accuse-land-council-of-holding-them-back/story-fn9hm1pm-1227075690477
French company AREVA will get to have 51% interest , later more, in joint uranium venture with Toro Energy
Toro signs NT deal with AREVA https://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/business/wa/a/25132512/toro-signs-nt-deal-with-areva/ The West AustralianSeptember 29, 2014 Toro Energy has signed a farm-in and joint venture agreement with French uranium and nuclear power giant AREVA in the Northern Territory.
The agreement covers a 2292sqkm tenement package in the Wiso Basin, southwest of Tennant Creek.
“Toro believes that its relatively unexplored Wiso Basin tenement package is ideally placed for exploring for a sandstone-hosted uranium mineralising system of a size and scale not unlike those found in Kazakhstan, where six of the world’s top 15 producing uranium mines are currently in operation,” the company said in a statement.
Toro’s managing director Dr Vanessa Guthrie said the company was excited to have AREVA participate in a substantial exploration portfolio at a time when few companies were actively exploring for uranium in Australia.
“We look forward to adding value to our NT exploration targets through a long and beneficial relationship with one of the world’s most respected uranium groups,” she said. Under the terms of the agreement, AREVA will spend $500,000 within two years of to earn a 51 per cent interest in the joint venture properties.
Upon reaching 51 per cent, AREVA will then have the option to spend another $1.5 million over four years for a further 29 per cent interest for a total 80 per cent stake.
Drilling is expected to begin in the first half of 2015.
Toro shares closed steady at 9.1 cents.
CLC seeks more Red Centre nuclear waste dump answers http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-09-12/clc-seeks-more-nuclear-waste-dump-answers/5740226 By Robert Herrick Fri 12 Sep 2014,
The Federal Government is seeking a new location for the facility, after a nominated site at Muckaty Station, near Tennant Creek, was abandoned.
The Government has given the Northern and Central land councils until the end of the month to put forward an uncontested site for a nuclear waste dump, before considering proposals from all landowners.
Traditional owners in the Tanami Desert are offering a site 540 kilometres west of Alice Springs.
However, the Central Land Council (CLC) said Commonwealth officials could not answer all the questions put to them at a meeting this week at the Tanami Mine, including how waste would be transported.
The CLC says it has a responsibility to ensure traditional owners are fully informed of the potential impacts of a nuclear waste dump before it can back any nomination.
“Surely if there’s going to be any suggestions about compulsorily acquiring lands gained under the Aboriginal Land Rights Act then they need to make that public,” he said.
Northern Australia report: Aboriginal land compulsory acquisition paragraph withdrawn from NT Government Response, ABC News, By Felicity James , 5 Sept 14, A paragraph calling for powers to compulsorily acquire Aboriginal land was withdrawn from the NT Government’s Response to the Green Paper on Developing Northern Australia, it has emerged.
The Federal Government tabled its recommendations on the Pivot North: Inquiry into the development of Northern Australia in Parliament on Thursday.
The Northern Territory Government Response was released to the media the same day and included a section on land tenure in the NT.
It said: “Given the Australian Government’s primacy in the area of Northern Territory Indigenous land tenure, the Northern Territory Government urges the Australian Government to expedite discussions with the Northern Territory Government and other stakeholders on the following in the interest of the development of northern Australia and its residents, particularly those in remote communities.”
It then had a list of requests for the Federal Government, and the first request called for the capacity to compulsorily acquire land held under the Aboriginal Land Rights Act.
In a version sent to the ABC by a Government media adviser it contained the following paragraph that did not appear in the final document.
“At the very least there needs to be capacity to compulsorily acquire ALRA land for Government/strategic purposes (Territory government including independent agencies and authorities, and local government).”
But the Government says the ABC was sent the wrong version and compulsory acquisition was not mentioned in the final version sent to the Federal Government. “What was written in the paper that you’ve got a copy of, came out of the department. I was the person who removed it before it got to Cabinet,” Chief Minister Adam Giles said today.
“This isn’t a mistake. There’s a draft paper that’s come up from the department. I encourage all employees of Government to think outside the square.”
Mr Giles said the Government does not have a stance on compulsory acquisition.
“We don’t have a position, it’s never come up as requiring a position.”
The Aboriginal Land Rights Act is a piece of federal legislation that establishes collective freehold title for traditional owners, with land councils empowered to act on their behalf.
About 50 per cent of the land, and 85 per cent of the coastline, in the Northern Territory is Aboriginal land.
Chief Minister Adam Giles has previously suggested the legislation should be put under the control of the Northern Territory Government.
Gaining access to land for development is a major theme of the NT Government’s submission.
The submission said development projects on land held under the Aboriginal Land Rights Act have become “too hard”.
“To provide an example of the challenge posed to development under current arrangements, often as many as 70 per cent of outstanding mineral exploration licence applications fall under the ALRA negotiation process,” it said.
NLC: Come clean about intentions
Northern Land Council Chief Executive Joe Morrison said the Government needed to explain where it stood on the issue.
“Surely if there’s going to be any suggestions about compulsorily acquiring lands gained under the Aboriginal Land Rights Act then they need to make that public,” he said.
“They need to articulate what their policy position is and how they intend to go about engaging with the Aboriginal community and particularly traditional owners.
“We’ve got a Government that’s made its intentions clear about the Aboriginal Land Rights Act.
“It’s clear that it sees it and sees the Native Title Act also as an impediment to development.
He said the Giles Government had not made a serious approach to the NLC about dealing with land tenure.
“This underhandedness is not doing anyone any good at a time when there’s enormous disparity between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people and we need to get on with the business.”
Audit of all NT Crown land…….http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-09-05/hold-nt-government-wants-power-to-take-land/5723336
Note: We mightn’t like mining, and it will be good when eventually product design is such that recycling of rare earths will pretty much eliminate this. Still, rare earths are needed in 21st Century technologies, especially in renewables. At least this company is not involved in the difficult and hazardous rare earths processing. I understand that processing is to be done in China, – where, after their disastrous history, they now do have the most advanced methods
Mining company Arafura Resources says plans to mine rare earth minerals in central Australia remain ‘on track’, despite uncertainty over future funding for the project, ABC Rural News 3 Sept 14, NT Country Hour By Carmen Brown
The company hopes to extract up to 20,000 tonnes of rare earth oxide per year from the Nolan’s Bore deposit, 135 kilometres north-east of Alice Springs in the Northern Territory.
A comprehensive project report released this week, indicates mining could begin at the site in 2019, six years later than previously expected. General manager of exploration and business development, Richard Brescianini, says while there has been strong interest in the project from investors, the company is yet to secure full financial backing for the mine……http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-09-03/rare-earth-mine-on-track-for-central-australia/5715100
Northern Territory: Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion manouvres on behalf of mining companies
By removing powers from the statutory authorities of the land councils, Scullion will undermine the collective authority of traditional owners over huge tracts of land. This collective ownership is the Aboriginal way; Tjukurrpa defines our relationships with the land. These relationships will be diminished by the government attitude of divide and conquer.
Perhaps it is an easy sales pitch to the mainstream world, to claim that we, remote Aboriginal people, are holding ourselves back. Or to claim that there will be no progress unless we are split into smaller, more containable, groups. Why? Because smaller numbers are easier to buy off? Because the lack of an independent Environment Protection Authority or an independent Development Consent Authority in the Territory means that this is the prime time to rape and pillage the land, before anyone looks too closely?
For Aboriginal people, the value of our land is deeper than a simple market value. It is a lasting legacy for our families. That does not mean that no development is warranted, but it needs to be on our terms. The land has to last us forever, not just for a brief boom-and-bust cycle that mostly benefits people from elsewhere.
Disassembling the collective authority over our land will not drive development. ……..
If the white knights want to ride in from distant lands and heroically try to save us from ourselves, why don’t they start by offering our children access to a real education? Nothing more, nothing less. The chance for our children to compete with any other children across Australia. Without this step in remote communities, no other development will be sustainable or meaningful.
After years of skimming commonwealth funds earmarked to ameliorate Aboriginal disadvantage, the source is finally drying up. The Territory government is close to the precipice of economic stagnation. Now the government must try to leverage Aboriginal lands in a squalid bid to attract corporate money to the Territory. It is a strategy doomed to failure.
Uninspiring catchphrases such as “Creating Parity” and “Developing the North” cannot become a reality without the participation of Aboriginal people. The economic wealth of the Territory depends on Aboriginal participation, including that of Aboriginal lands. That responsibility is not one that we will give up lightly under pressure from the commonwealth, the Territory or vested interests.
The governments of the day have made their motivations clear. They fear the collective power of Aboriginal people. They fear the power of the very statutory authorities that they created. But they do not speak with us and they definitely do not speak for us. We will have the last word.
Alison Anderson is the member for Namatjira in the Northern Territory Legislative Assembly. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/opinion/nothing-for-aborigines-in-scullions-manoeuvres/story-e6frg6zo-1227029853648