Growing public anxiety in Greenland, over Australian uranium miner Greenland Minerals and Energy Limited (GMEL)
Hooge explains that the “mineral authorities” have fed the public disinformation over the last years but the tide may be turning, with growing concerns over environmental effects and the leftist party Inuit Ataqatigiit pledging to roll back the repeal if it wins back power.
The prospect of a relatively unknown Australian company exploiting massive untapped resources in Greenland deserves a robust public and political debate. It has thus far received nothing in Australia, and little in Denmark and Greenland.
In an age of worsening climate change, mining uranium is an arguably unsafe and potentially explosive answer to the problem
This is a story about an Australian company you’ve never heard of, operating in a nation that rarely enters the global media: Greenland. It’s a story about the intense search for energy sources in a world that’s moving away from the dirtiest fossil fuels.
Aleqa Hammond, the prime minister of Greenland, is the first woman to lead this autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark. She also welcomes the financial opportunities from climate change and a melting Arctic Circle……..
In October last year, Hammond pushed legislation through Greenland’s parliament to overturn a 25 year old ban on the extraction of radioactive materials, including uranium, despite countless leading environmental NGOs urging otherwise.
It attracted global interest from the rare earth and uranium industries, including from China. Concerns were also raised about Greenland’s ability to manage a toxic substance in the wake of Fukushima and Chernobyl.
The company Greenland Minerals and Energy Limited (GMEL) is based in Perth, Western Australia. This year GMEL announced a major step forward in their plan to open one of the world’s largest uranium mines in southern Greenland, at Kvanefjeld, near Narsaq. The mine will also produce fluoride, thorium and other rare earths.
There is still significant opposition to the Kvanefjeld project. The Ecological Council, a Danish NGO, organised a conference to discuss the potential contamination risks in March, noting that the mine poses serious risks for the inhabitants of the nearby village, Narsaq.
Many locals told the BBC that they worried about pollution and challenges to traditional ways of life if GMEL moved ahead with its plans.
Unsurprisingly, Danish green groups have pushed for a continued ban on uranium mining. They claim that rare earth elements can be extracted without uranium mining in Greenland.
Who owns GMEL?
This would have been an important but fairly typical contest over resources, but after issues surrounding the ownership and status of Perth-based GMEL were raised in the Greenlandic parliament, the prospects of the Australian firm may be in jeopardy. Continue reading
Proposed WA uranium mine will poison groundwater opponents say http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2014/08/12/proposed-wa-uranium-mine-will-poison-groundwater-opponents-say Environmental groups say they fear a proposed WA uranium mine will poison groundwater and affect food supplies. By Ryan Emery 12 AUG 2014 LEADING ENVIRONMENTAL GROUPS ARE CLAIMING THAT A PROPOSED URANIUM MINE WILL POISON GROUNDWATER AND AFFECT FOOD SOURCES IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA’S EASTERN PILBARA REGION.
The Kintyre project, 260km northeast of Newman, will be WA’s second most advanced uranium mine if it gets final environmental approval from the state’s Environment Minister Albert Jacob.
Uranium mining had been banned in the state until the then Liberal-National government was elected in 2008.
The state’s Environmental Protection Authority has recommended that the project, backed by Canadian uranium miner Cameco, be given conditional environmental approval.
However, opponents of the mine say the assessment was flawed.Mia Pepper from the Conservation Council of Western Australia says a hydrology report failed to consider the traditional owners’ knowledge of rainfall patterns and water flow at the proposed site.
She says they claim water flows from the site into the nearby Karlamilyi National Park, not into the Great Sandy Desert.
“The difference between those two scenarios are really significant when you’re talking about a uranium mine and the pathways for radioactive mine waste to leak into that groundwater and just how far that contamination could spread and what areas it could impact on,” she said.
“And we’re talking about a national park, and we’re talking about communities so the impacts are really significant.”
Concerns have also beeing raised over radioactive waste management, and the impactof the mine on rare and threatened species.
The mine’s proponent Cameco has previously said it is confident it can mine in the area “in a way which maintains the ecological functions and environmental values in the area.”
A decision on ministerial environmental approval is expected in the coming months.
http://tonyserve.wordpress.com/2014/08/12/uranium-mine-abandoned-but-what-about-taxpayer-subsidies-to-mining-co-australia-wapol-auspol/ Uranium miner Areva quizzed over Royalties for Regions payment, 12 August 2014 Greens Member for Mining and Pastoral Region, Robin Chapple MLC has quizzed the State Government over its funding support of a subsidiary of French uranium miner Areva, for its North Canning Project.
Earlier this week, Areva Resources Australia announced that it would move to abandon the Kimberley uranium project because it is not technically feasible.
“Did they get Royalties for Regions funding? Was it utilised or if not, was it returned? If not, why not?” Mr Chapple said.
“I am gobsmacked at the constant allocations of funding being poured into the pockets of those already at the very top of the super-rich mining pyramid. It’s an inequity of the highest order.
“The Royalties for Regions Scheme should be taking from the exploitative, extractive industries and supporting true regional development. We should be funding future industries, affordable housing and community infrastructure that will ensure sustainability beyond this limited mining boom. Why are we using these precious funds to facilitate unsustainable mining practices?
“It’s obvious that the State is struggling to provide affordable housing, energy infrastructure, good public transport options, community and health services, let alone take care of our fragile environment.
“Whichever way we look at it, we cannot justify this expenditure,” Mr Chapple said.
Yawuru People – Making a stand against fracking reaching thousands of people as they make their way to the races in Broome today. Damian Kelly 13 Aug 14 http://handsoffcountry.blogspot.com.au/2014/08/normal-0-false-false-false-en-us-ja-x.html
The Mining Company Buru – lead this risky environmental venture which could be just another failed attempt by a Company to run roughshod over communities in NW Australia. Woodside’s withdrawal from James Price Point in 2013 and more recently French nuclear power giant Areva has abandoned a Kimberley uranium project. With Buru’s falling share price, No Social Licence, delays and low cash flow the writing seems to be on the wall. Buru are also refusing to release information to the community regarding the chemicals they plan to use.
In short – Fracking is the process of drilling then injecting fluid, much of it toxic, into the ground at high pressure, to fracture gas-bearing rocks to release natural gas.
During this process, methane gas and toxic chemicals can leak from wells and contaminate nearby groundwater. Broome draws its drinking water from the ground. Buru Energy have plans to frack the Kimberley. The US, there have been more than 1000 documented cases of water contamination near areas of gas drilling. Some of the countries that have banned fracking are France, Bulgaria and Northern Ireland. The Australian state of Victoria currently has a moratorium on fracking.
Here in WA the state Government fully supports fracking.
Fast track approvals should be dumped: KLC ABC News 6 Aug 14 By Nicolas Perpitch Proposed changes to Western Australia’s Aboriginal Heritage Act have been labelled discriminatory, amid calls for them to be dumped and the act rewritten. In a scathing submission, the Kimberley Land Council (KLC) also warned the amendments would disenfranchise Indigenous people.
KLC chief executive Nolan Hunter said the draft bill focused power in the hands of one bureaucrat – the Department of Aboriginal Affairs’ chief executive officer. “This is a totally bureaucratic government process, so we pretty much will be disenfranchised in terms of having a say once all this is set,” he said.
“This basically discriminates against Aboriginal people. It favours the state’s position.”
Currently the Aboriginal Cultural Material Committee (ACMC), established through the act, provides advice and recommendations to the Aboriginal Affairs Minister on heritage sites. Fast track’ authority for permits handed to CEOMinister Peter Collier revealed the draft bill in mid-June, saying the pace of economic development in recent years, particularly in mining and construction, had highlighted inadequacies in the current legislation.
The draft bill would speed up the approval process for mining and other development by giving the Department of Aboriginal Affairs chief executive officer “expedited” or “fast track” authority to declare whether or not an Aboriginal heritage site existed.
The CEO would be able to issue land use permits when he or she decided a site would not be significantly damaged or altered.
Submissions on the draft amendments have been overwhelmingly critical of the proposed changes, in particular the new fast track approvals process. The KLC and other land councils, Aboriginal corporations, the Law Society of WA, individuals and anthropologists such as La Trobe University’s Nicholas Herriman have argued the new process would largely cut out Aboriginal people.
The Law Society, in its submission, said the proposed amendments stripped the ACMC of its evaluative role and predominantly shifted power to the CEO, who was not obliged to consult with Aboriginal people or to apply anthropological expertise.
Mining and other companies could appeal decisions but no statutory right of review was provided for Aboriginal custodians or traditional owners.
“The lack of such a right again negates the claim that these amendments are increasing the strength of the voice of Aboriginal people or that the amendments increase accountability,” the Law Society said.
The Goldfields Land and Sea Council pointed out the Government had not specified the process to be followed by the CEO in making his or her decisions, raising concerns about “the validity of any decision made”.
“It remains that the most significant issue raised by the proposed amendments to the act is that the regulations that will govern how it will operate are not yet available,” the land council wrote in its submission…………
‘Streamlining development’ aim of act: council
National Native Title Council CEO Brian Wyatt said the changes were not primarily directed at heritage protection.”There’s no real will or desire by government to protect heritage. It’s all about streamlining the processes of development,” Mr Wyatt said.
The KLC also stressed a new section in the act making it a criminal offence not to declare potential heritage sites could force land councils and representative bodies to break the law. There would be fines for people, other than traditional owners, who did not report sites or objects.
Mr Hunter said traditional owners disclosed information to consultants, development proponents and representative bodies on a legal, confidential basis and that arrangement could fall foul of the new provision.
“It sets a default position where we can be subject to a criminal prosecution with very little culpability on our part,” he said.
“How can you create legislation that compels you to break the law?”
He called on the Government to dump the draft bill and start again……….
Submissions on the draft amendments to the 42-year-old act close this week following an eight-week public consultation period. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-08-05/indigenous-groups-speak-out-about-aboriginal-heritage-act/5650320/?site=indigenous&topic=latest
compensation processes in the Act and Bill for Aboriginal peoples facing damage to or
destruction of their heritage.
Dear Chief Heritage Officer
Feedback on the Aboriginal heritage legislative changes
Thank you for the opportunity to provide feedback on the Aboriginal heritage legislative
I would like first to acknowledge that the Aboriginal Heritage Amendment Bill 2014 makes
improvements, for example the extension of time in which to bring a prosecution, the
provision of express penalties where these are currently lacking, and the increased
penalties for offences.
The Bill also seems likely to deliver on its promise to deliver better quality registers, and the
inclusion of a historic record of all approvals should assist with monitoring compliance.
The Bill also seems likely to deliver on its promise to deliver faster decision making, and the
prescribing of processes for decision-making would make those processes more certain
However, on the draft legislation currently available, and particularly in the absence of draft
regulations, I am not at all satisfied that the legislative changes will effectively improve
either the protection of Aboriginal heritage or adequately involve Aboriginal peoples in that
process. At the end of the day, protection of Aboriginal heritage is what the Act is for. Continue reading
Do the Martu peoples want uranium mining? Fukushima Emergency what can we do? 31 July 14 Western desert-living Martu Elder, Thelma Rawlins said that many of her people remain opposed to the “go-aheads” given to uranium mining on Martu Country.
“Kintyre should be left alone, our Country left alone.”
“This is really bad stuff in the ground, and it will be really bad stuff if it comes above the ground. We are getting too close to bad stuff happening,” said Ms Rawlins.
“Country will be made bad, our water made bad. Our water is salty, the river bed is salty. We have to be careful with our water. The uranium out of ground will take our water away.”
“Leave the uranium in the ground. It is bad stuff that they want our people to be next to, this is not good.”
But Western Australia’s controversial Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has given the thumbs up for the CAMECO company proposal to mine uranium on Martu Country, at Kintyre which is next to the significant waterways of Kalmilyi National Park in the Pilbara. The EPA has been the subject of one controversy after another and most recently with the now defunct James Price Gas Hub proposal in the Kimberley where it had also have given the thumbs up despite widespread public opposition.
Two prospective uranium mine sites in Western Australia are nearing the likelihood of becoming operational in the next couple of years, both near Aboriginal communities – the other uranium site is near Wiluna and Toro Energy may have it operational by the end of next year. By the end of the century Western Australia will be transformed into one of the world’s largest uranium miners according to insiders in the industry. Western Australia is rich in easily accessible high grade uranium. The miners are chomping at the bit, investing in uranium mining research divisions within their multinational companies. It is no secret that the State and Federal Governments are supportive of mining uranium despite the litany of well-known risks……
“We are the Custodians of the Land. It must come before all else,” said Mr Cooke.
“Uranium is a poison. Our rivers will be poisoned. Our trees will be poisoned. Our food will be contaminated. Our people will become sick.”
“Uranium mining can hurt us forever, hurt every generation of our children to come.” http://fukushimaemergencywhatcanwedo.blogspot.com.au/2014/07/do-martu-peoples-want-uranium-mining.html
New WA uranium mine given environmental approval amid concerns, Australian Mining 29 July, 2014 Ben Hagemann The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Western Australia has given conditional approval to the proposed Kintyre uranium mine in the Little Sandy Desert.
Canadian-based mining company Cameco plans to truck uranium oxide from 270 kilometres north east of Newman to the Port of Adelaide. The EPA’s report is open for a two-week appeal period starting Monday, July 28, and closing on August 11……….
Environmental groups have voiced concerns about impacts on the nearby Karlamilyi National Park, with the Conservation Council expressing their disappointment with the EPA approval.
Conservation Council spokesperson Mia Pepper said most of the EPAs conditions were administrative, and that environmental protections have been deferred to the Department of Mines and Petroleum.
“In this case, that includes mine closure, rehabilitation and tailings management and those are the aspects where uranium mines have failed in Australia to deliver good environmental outcomes,” she said.
“That’s something that we think the EPA should be looking at more closely.”
Pepper said the Conservation Council will make a submission regarding the EPAs report, and will support other organisations wishing to do the same.http://www.miningaustralia.com.au/news/new-wa-uranium-mine-given-environmental-approval-a
Increased scrutiny needed as EPA radioactive rubber stamp fails the nuclear test National and state environment groups have called for a dedicated public inquiry into plans for increased uranium mining in WA following an EPA recommendation to conditionally approve the proposed Kintyre mine next to Kalamilyi National Park in the Pilbara.
“The proposal to mine uranium five hundred metres from a creek system that is part of a network of significant waterways in a national park is reckless and should not be approved,” said CCWA campaigner Mia Pepper.
“This polluting plan would put great pressure on one of WA’s special places – our largest national park – and would impact on scarce water resources and a number of significant and vulnerable species including the bilby, marsupial mole and rock wallaby.
The approval recommendation follows recent disturbing allegations that former mine owner Rio Tinto made secret payments of around $21 million to silence Aboriginal concerns and opposition while it negotiated the project’s sale to current owner Cameco.
“Uranium mining is a high risk, low return activity where the proven risks far outweigh any promised rewards,” said ACF campaigner Dave Sweeney.
“Uranium is currently trading at US$28/lb. Cameco has stated it will not mine unless the uranium prices reaches upwards of US$75/lb. The EPA is recommending a green light for yellowcake when the company has stated the finances and the plan don’t stack up.
“Uranium mining poses unique risks and long term human and environmental hazards. It demands the highest level of scrutiny and assessment – instead we have a lower order EPA report based on the hope of ‘satisfactory implementation by the proponent of the recommended conditions’. This inadequate approach is out of step with community expectations and fails to reflect the uranium sectors proven history of leaks and failure.”
“In the shadow of Fukushima, a continuing nuclear crisis directly fuelled by Australian uranium, Bill Marmion and Colin Barnett should put this controversial and contaminating sector before the people and under the spotlight via a public inquiry.”
For comment contact: Dave Sweeney 0408 317 812 or Mia Pepper 0415 380 808
Legal advice questioned controversial mining deal: http://www.smh.com.au/national/legal-advice-questioned-controversial-mining-deal-20140715-ztbnd.html#ixzz37mgd7Zbq July 15, 2014 Richard Baker and Nick McKenzie More legal advice has emerged questioning the process that led to a controversial deal between a West Australian aboriginal corporation and a mining company.
Fairfax Media has obtained advice from a third in-house lawyer for the Western Desert Lands Aboriginal Corporation which cast doubt over the process that lead to a deal with Reward Minerals to mine a Martu sacred site in outback WA called Lake Disappointment.
At the weekend, Fairfax Media revealed how two other in-house lawyers for the Western Desert corporation wrote an explosive July, 2011 memo warning that a soon-to-be signed deal with Reward had “no validity”, in part because the corporation’s board and executives had, in their opinion, not acted in the best interests of the Martu people.
A 2009 email reveals that a separate in-house lawyer for the corporation also raised concerns about the Martu people not having given “proper informed consent” to an in-principle agreement signed with Reward to mine Lake Disappointment a year earlier.
In March, 2009, the Western Desert corporation’s then in-house lawyer, Christina Araujo, emailed acting chief executive Tony Wright to advise that she was not “prepared to state that I believe WDLAC has the informed consent of the common law holders” because it could put her practising certificate at risk.
“Tony, further to our conversation on the 6th of March, I am confirming in writing concerns I have in relation to the Reward negotiations,” Ms Araujo wrote. “Apart from my personal observations, I have also had discussions with a number of others who were also of the view that proper informed consent is or may be lacking.
“Going through the files, it appears Katherine Hill [another legal adviser], on numerous occasions provided advice on proper informed consent and it is noted in a file note dated 16/10/2007 that she spoke to Joe Procter and Clinton Wolf about her concern that people did not seem to understand there was a mining proposal over Lake Disappointment.
“It does not appear in the files that the matter was discussed in detail with the common law holders … it is an issue for WDLAC if we do not have informed consent for the Reward matter. Any agreement which may result may be invalid.”
Mr Procter was a consultant helping the Western Desert corporation negotiate the initial 2008 deal and Mr Wolf was then the corporation’s chief executive.
Ms Araujo’s March, 2009 email came at the same time the Native Title Tribunal heard Martu elders testify about the cultural significance of the Lake Disappointment site.
The tribunal was asked to rule on Reward’s proposal after relations between the mining company and the Western Desert corporation stalled in mid-2008 amid an argument over legal costs. In a historic ruling, the tribunal rejected Reward’s bid on the basis of Lake Disappointment’s cultural importance to the Martu people. It was the first time the tribunal had refused a mining company’s application.
But, as reported by Fairfax Media at the weekend, the Western Desert corporation altered it stance on the Reward proposal in 2011, despite strong doubts from another set of in-house lawyers about the negotiation process not being conducted in the best interests of the Martu people.
Ms Araujo’s successors as the Western Desert corporation’s in-house lawyers warned that the Reward negotiation process had in their opinion put the corporation in breach of most of its legal obligations as the trustee body for Martu people.
In a January, 2011 announcement to the Australian Stock Exchange, Reward revealed it had in late 2010 approached the Western Desert corporation to re-open talks over Lake Disappointment.
On April 1, 2011, Reward announced to the ASX: “Reward has appointed Azure Capital and its affiliate Indigenous Investment Management (IIM) as advisers to assist in discussions with the Martu traditional owners.”
Company documents show at the time of this announcement that IIM’s shareholders and directors included former Western Desert chief executive Mr Wolf, senior Azure Capital executives and Warren Mundine, who was last year appointed as the federal government’s top indigenous adviser.
Another shareholder at this time was the Western Desert corporation’s chief financial officer Mr Wright.
Mr Mundine has confirmed that he was not personally involved in the negotiations nor benefited from the deal.
Western Desert corporation chief executive Noel Whitehead and Mr Wolf said external legal advisers were engaged in 2011 to ensure the deal was done properly and fairly.
Reward this week rejected any inference its negotiations over Lake Disappointment were unfair. It said independent legal and financial advisers were involved and great care had been taken to treat the Martu people with respect.
Cameco: Australia Regulator to Rule on Uranium Mine Within Weeks By Stephen Bell Capiyal Gr. 16 July 14 PERTH--Canada’s Cameco Corp. (CCJ) expects Australian regulators to decide on its proposed Kintyre uranium mine within weeks, but will likely delay construction after prices of the nuclear fuel slumped to nine-year lows.
Brian Reilly, managing director of Cameco Australia, said Wednesday he expects Western Australia state’s Environmental Protection Authority to release a report into the project soon.
“The EPA is sitting on the report and recommendations–we anticipate seeing that released publicly within the next few weeks,” Mr Reilly told The Wall Street Journal on the sidelines of a uranium conference in Perth.
The regulator will make a recommendation to state and federal ministers, who will then make a final decision on whether the project can go ahead.
Mr. Reilly said Cameco hopes to “be in a position by the end of this year to have this project approved.”
However, Cameco would need uranium prices to recover sharply before starting construction of the mine. It would also look to discover more uranium reserves at the mine site.
In mid-2012, Cameco deferred development of Kintyre due to a collapse in the uranium price in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan. At the time, Cameco said the project likely wouldn’t be viable if uranium prices fell below US$67 a pound.
Spot uranium prices are currently around US$28 a pound because of a slower-than expected restart of Japanese nuclear reactors idled soon after the Fukushima crisis. There has also been a build-up in global uranium inventories as nuclear facilities recycle more fuel……http://english.capital.gr/News.asp?id=2064849
Australia drying caused by greenhouse gases and ozone depletion http://phys.org/news/2014-07-australia-greenhouse-gases-ozone.html#j Cp NOAA scientists have developed a new high-resolution climate model that shows southwestern Australia’s long-term decline in fall and winter rainfall is caused by increases in manmade greenhouse gas emissions and ozone depletion, according to research published today in Nature Geoscience. “This new high-resolution climate model is able to simulate regional-scale precipitation with considerably improved accuracy compared to previous generation models,” said Tom Delworth, a research scientist at NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory in Princeton, N.J., who helped develop the new model and is co-author of the paper. “This model is a major step forward in our effort to improve the prediction of regional climate change, particularly involving water resources.”
NOAA researchers conducted several climate simulations using this global climate model to study long-term changes in rainfall in various regions across the globe. One of the most striking signals of change emerged over Australia, where a long-term decline in fall and winter rainfall has been observed over parts of southern Australia. Simulating natural and manmade climate drivers, scientists showed that the decline in rainfall is primarily a response to manmade increases in greenhouse gases as well as a thinning of the ozone caused by manmade aerosol emissions. Several natural causes were tested with the model, including volcano eruptions and changes in the sun’s radiation. But none of these natural climate drivers reproduced the long-term observed drying, indicating this trend is due to human activity.
Southern Australia’s decline in rainfall began around 1970 and has increased over the last four decades. The model projects a continued decline in winter rainfall throughout the rest of the 21st century, with significant implications for regional water resources. The drying is most severe over southwest Australia where the model forecasts a 40 percent decline in average rainfall by the late 21st century.
“Predicting potential future changes in water resources, including drought, are an immense societal challenge,” said Delworth. “This new climate model will help us more accurately and quickly provide resource planners with environmental intelligence at the regional level. The study of Australian drought helps to validate this new model, and thus builds confidence in this model for ongoing studies of North American drought.”
Conflict of interest: Abbott’s Aboriginal man Warren Mundine and the Martu people’s missing $millions
For Mundine, today’s revelations raise questions about his business judgment – and specifically about his company’s role in the Reward Minerals deal. How could anyone believe that the Martu people were being properly represented by the Western Desert corporation during negotiations when one of its top executives had an undisclosed interest in a predetermined outcome?
The sorry tale of Lake Disappointment, the missing mining millions and Warren Mundine, SMH. July 10, 2014 Richard Baker and Nick McKenzie “……once again, he [Darren Farmer] was doing what he had been told not to do. This time he was asking questions. He strode towards Biljabu, who was deputy chairman of the [Western Desert] Corporation. Where, he demanded to know, was the paperwork? And why couldn’t he or the others see it?
The paperwork in question outlined details of the deals Western Desert had struck with mining companies to allow them to dig on the 136,000 square kilometres of resource-rich Pilbara that are the Martu’s traditional lands.
These deals had brought about $50million into the corporation, a non-profit prescribed body corporate that is meant to use the money to benefit all Martu. But little of the money had gone into improving Martu townships.
Farmer kept on with his questions. Why had the Western Desert corporation spent $7million in four years on its handful of employees and paid directors more than $1million? How had well-connected corporate advisers pocketed millions, while much of the Martu mob lived in poverty? Why had the views of senior elders on mining proposals been ignored? Everyone at the meeting that day could tell it was not going to end well.
There are conflicting accounts of what happened next……….
Heated debate – and sometimes violence – is nothing new at indigenous land-council meetings across Australia. These are the forums where the future clashes with the past; where members of some of Australia’s most impoverished communities weigh up the riches that mining can deliver against the cultural cost of digging up their sacred sites.
But what was different about that meeting last July was that the deals at the centre of all the trouble had been brokered by companies owned by the biggest names in Australia’s indigenous community, including the nation’s most influential Aboriginal, Warren Mundine.
The accountant Dalgleish, true to stereotype, was a stickler for detail and decided to dig further into Wolf and Wright’s activities. He found that in mid 2008 they had separately bought more than $1million worth of Perth property. This was close to the time Wright joined WDLAC and the Rio Tinto $21million deal was done.
Although he had no proof that the property purchases involved money from Rio Tinto, Dalgleish was intrigued by the confluence of events and brought them to the attention of WDLAC’s board. On May 7, 2009, Dalgleish wrote a confidential memo to WDLAC’s chairman in which he wondered how Wolf could have approved such an “outrageously excessive fee” as the $2.35million paid to Procter.
A day later, Wright paid out Dalgleish’s contract and asked him to leave. He was able to do this because he had become the corporation’s acting chief executive following Wolf’s departure, a promotion that had bumped his salary to $250,000.
Three days after his departure, Dalgleish reported his concerns to the WA police fraud squad, which in turn contacted Western Desert corporation. According to the police file, detectives were assured by Western Desert in September 2009 that Procter no longer acted for the corporation, and that an “independent third party” would examine the issues and provide recommendations.
A WA police spokeswoman says police never received a copy of any third-party review.
‘‘The matter is currently filed pending further contact from WDLAC as the complainant,’’ she says.
Procter is bewildered as to why anyone would seek police attention over the Rio deal. His company, he says, acted with integrity and its role was supported by the Martu people, who were $20million richer because of IndiEnergy’s involvement.
Dalgleish also contacted the federal regulator, the Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations, which is meant to ensure good governance and financial probity at the more than 2500 indigenous bodies across Australia. ORIC also decided not to investigate.
Meanwhile, in early 2009, the Australian Uranium Association – the peak body for uranium miners – announced the members of its indigenous dialogue group. Wolf and Mundine were among those named to promote the potential for uranium mining to enrich indigenous communities.
At the same time, Procter was busy expanding the reach of his company, IndiEnergy. He began appointing ‘‘special advisers’’ from the mining, legal and financial worlds. By far his most important appointment was that of Mundine as a special adviser and advisory board member.
The two had known each other since 2004 when the Howard government appointed them as members of the body that replaced ATSIC.
By the time Abbott announced Mundine as head of his Indigenous Advisory Council in September 2013, he was a close business associate of both Wolf and Procter.
Australia may be a big country, but the indigenous business and politics scene is small and replete with overlapping interests. It was only a matter of time before one of Mundine’s business relationships would clash with his quasi-ministerial role.
Mundine’s potential for a conflict of interest became a reality in February when Procter announced IndiEnergy had taken a stake in an indigenous company whose co-owner, Larrakia Development Corporation, is actively seeking Commonwealth support.
Procter highlighted Mundine in the February announcement of his new venture, praising him and Abbott for promoting indigenous business opportunities. ‘‘Skin in the game is the only way indigenous organisations can attract the right people to assist them in reaching their commercial dreams,’’ Procter said.
But having skin in the game means you risk losing some. And this is the risk that emerged for Mundine when a company he part-owned became involved in the Western Desert corporation’s most contentious mining deal…………
For Mundine, today’s revelations raise questions about his business judgment – and specifically about his company’s role in the Reward Minerals deal. How could anyone believe that the Martu people were being properly represented by the Western Desert corporation during negotiations when one of its top executives had an undisclosed interest in a predetermined outcome?……………
In December 2011, Reward announced it would pay the Western Desert corporation $500,000 upon the signing of an agreement. Another $500,000 would come when mining began and there would also be royalties of 1.25per cent on potash sales. This money was meant to be held in trust for all Martu.
But the biggest prize was Reward’s issuing of 9.5million share options to the Western Desert corporation and Poynton’s Azure Capital, which was in effect the parent company of Indigenous Investment Management. The value of the options at the time was almost $10 million. The Martu will get millions more options as the project progresses.
With money now in the bank, the Western Desert corporation went on a spending spree. Despite its own rules banning the handing out of funds without the approval of all members, the board decided on February 16, 2012, to use the first $500,000 from Reward and $100,000 from the corporation’s operating budget to pay 30 select elders $20,000 each.
Five board members, including Biljabu’s brother, received $20,000 each. Another recipient had just finished his term as a director, and the parents of three board members were also paid. Wolf says ensuring money is properly handled is easier said than done. ‘‘Some Martu live on $9000 a year and so when money hits the account you say ‘that should go to education or something’ but it’s hard when you live in poverty.’’
Still, Farmer says many Martu people are bewildered by their board’s capitulation over Lake Disappointment. ‘‘Why did we fight so hard, only to let it go?’’
So where has the federal regulator been in all this? ORIC has long been aware of governance issues at Western Desert corporation. In 2010, it found the Western Desert corporation had failed to keep proper records, paid money to the board’s chair and deputy in breach of its rules and provided cars to directors – including Biljabu – without member approval. But no disciplinary action was taken against individuals responsible.
Farmer’s fight for answers has taken a toll. ‘‘I’ve been isolated, lost sleep, become ill and [been] made out to be the troublemaker who is stopping people getting their money,’’ he says.
Meanwhile, he says, the Martu communities have not benefited as much as they should have from the mining deals. ‘‘Go out into the communities and there is f— all to show for all the millions.’’………: http://www.smh.com.au/national/the-sorry-tale-of-lake-disappointment-the-missing-mining-millions-and-warren-mundine-20140711-zt2b8.html#ixzz37Iu9KYXJ
Nuclear dump plan for desert MICHAEL DULANEY The West Australian July 6, 2014, A traditional owner in the northern Goldfields wants to house a proposed nuclear waste dump on land in the Gibson Desert to help develop the region’s economy.
Kanpa community chairman Preston Thomas has seized on the Commonwealth dumping Muckaty Station as the site for a Federal nuclear waste repository.
It is part of his vision to provide biofuel to the Ngaanyatjarra Lands and develop agriculture around the remote Kanpa Aboriginal community, about 900 km north-east of Kalgoorlie-Boulder.
The Northern Territory station was withdrawn last month after a Federal Court case and division between Aboriginal groups in the region who claim they were not consulted properly.
The Federal Government is looking for an alternative site for Australia’s first radioactive waste dump.
Kanpa’s representative body the Pira Kata Aboriginal Corporation, chaired by Mr Thomas, has applied for a native title sublease of about 500sqkm between Kanpa and the Great Central Road.
Mr Thomas wants this area to be considered for the facility, which requires an area of about 3sqkm – about the size of two football fields……..Mr Thomas has been in discussions for the project with AgGrow Energy Resources since 2010, after the company’s involvement in a similar pilot project in the Pilbara………Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane said the Northern Land Council, which represented traditional owner interests at Muckaty Station, had been given three months to find an alternative site.
If the process was not concluded by September, a nationwide tender would be conducted, with “preliminary discussions” already under way.https://au.news.yahoo.com/thewest/business/wa/a/24395664/nuclear-dump-plan-for-desert/
Aboriginal Heritage Act changes help miners, but do little to protect sacred sites: Greens ABC News By Katrin Long 12 Jun 2014 The Greens have raised concerns over a WA Government proposal to amend parts of the Aboriginal Heritage Act, which sets out the way in which sacred places and objects should be preserved.
The Act has not had any major changes since it was introduced 42 year ago.
One of the changes would see control of major decisions regarding potential and established heritage sites handed from a committee to a single CEO. The Chamber of Minerals and Energy (CME) has said the proposed changes would improve efficiency in the mining and energy sector.
Greens MP Robin Chapple said the changes would aid mining companies, but would constitute a “complete desecration” of an Act that has already been watered down since its inception.
“They’ve taken away what was left of a shell of an Act and just trashed it,” he said…..http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-06-12/concern-over-proposed-changes-to-aboriginal-heritage-act/5518244