Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Aboriginal group’s claim against Western Australia Conservation Council over uranium mining

Traditional owners hit out at WA Conservation Council for alleged misrepresentation over uranium campaign http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-07-28/traditional-owners-hit-out-wa-conservation-council-on-uranium/8751926  ABC Goldfields By Jarrod Lucas An Aboriginal corporation representing traditional owners in WA’s northern Goldfields claims an environmental group has misrepresented it by suggesting it supports legal action against a proposed uranium mine.

The Conservation Council of WA launched Supreme Court action earlier this month to challenge the Barnett Government’s decision to approve Cameco’s proposed mine at Yeelirrie, 1,079km north east of Perth.

The council maintains it has the support of members of the Tjiwarl people, the native title holders over the Yeelirrie area, in pursuing the action.

But the Tjiwarl Aboriginal Corporation said they do not speak for its 150-odd members or 10 directors, who represent each of the area’s different family groups.

A spokesman for the Tjiwarl group told the ABC it is yet to formally adopt a policy on uranium mining or the Yeelirriee court case — although that could change as soon as September when the directors meet in Leinster.

“Any decision about this project needs to be made by Tjiwarl (Aboriginal Corporation) in accordance with our traditional laws and customs,” the corporation said in a statement.

“Until such time, we ask that media outlets, and the Conservation Council of WA, refrain from referring to Tjiwarl (Aboriginal Corporation) as supporting this legal proceeding.”

The spokesman said the group had received significant backlash on social media, due to its perceived involvement in the action.

Conservation Council denies misrepresenting group

Conservation Council director Piers Verstegen denied they ever misrepresented the Aboriginal corporation.

“We haven’t linked them to the case, there’s certain members of that claim group that are part of the case, but we haven’t linked the body corporate to the case and I’m not sure where they’re getting that information from,” Mr Verstegen said.

“We haven’t made any linkage between their claim group and the case — it’s just individuals who are part of that claim group who are part of the case.”

Vicky Abdullah, whose family has opposed uranium mining at Yeelirrie for more than 40 years, is one of three traditional owners who are backing the Conservation Council’s legal action.

“Yeelirrie is important to my family; we have fought to protect this site and we won’t stop now,” Ms Abdullah said.

A crowdfunding page set up by the 47-year-old not-for-profit group seeking to raise $50,000 to fund the court case also mentions the traditional owners.

At last count the page had raised more than $9,800.

Uranium mine a challenging call for traditional owners

The Tjiwarl claim was officially recognised by the Federal Court in April, with the long legal fight seeing the group’s 13,000 square kilometres of land between the towns of Wiluna and Leonora officially acknowledged.

It has sparked a flurry of negotiations with Cameco and fellow mining giants BHP and Gold Fields, both of which have operating mines in the area.

But as WA’s biggest uranium deposit, Yeelirrie remains the area’s most controversial potential development.

Discovered by Western Mining Corporation in 1972, the deposit was sold to Cameco by BHP for $US430 million in 2012.

The mine takes its name from a nearby pastoral station, which in turn took its name from the traditional word for the area.

Opponents of the mine say the name translates to “place of death”, but others have suggested “lethargy” or “fatigue” are better translations.

The mine is one of four proposed uranium mines the McGowan Government will allow to proceed, despite reinstating a ban on any further development or exploration in Western Australia.

The Tjiwarl spokesman said the group would likely formalise its position on uranium mining when the corporation’s directors meet in September.

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July 29, 2017 - Posted by | aboriginal issues, legal, uranium, Western Australia

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