Iron ore miner Fortescue Metals Group has won a court victory in its acrimonious native title battle with the Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation, which appears to pave the way for development of its Solomon Hub in the Pilbara.
The Federal Court in Perth has dismissed an appeal by Yindjibarndi against the state government’s decision to grant three mining leases at the Solomon Hub.
The full bench of the Federal Court today unanimously dismissed the appeal.
The Yindjibarndi group originally objected to the leases being granted because of the cultural significance of the land.
The corporation has also objected to a compensation deal struck between Fortescue and what the YAC calls a splinter group, Wirlu-Murra Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation, to mine the Solomon project area.
Fortescue offered the Aboriginal landowners a $500,000 signing fee and a capped amount of $4 million a year in cash, plus up to $6.5 million a year in staff housing, jobs, training and business opportunities.
But the YAC said that offer was neither fair nor equitable, and described it as “tiny”, compared to industry standards.
Fortescue chief executive Nev Power reiterated after the Federal Court’s judgement today that the agreement it had reached was supported by the majority of the Yindjibarndi community.
“We are pleased this judgment confirms previous decisions granting these mining leases for our Solomon Hub mine,” said.
“This verdict vindicates Fortescue's philosophy to support an entire community to become independent and move on from welfare.”
"Fortescue now looks forward to completing construction of the Solomon Hub and continuing its close co-operation with the Yindjibarndi and Roebourne communities.”
Fortescue has forecast the Solomon Hub to create $280 billon in revenue over the next 40 years through the extraction of 2.4 billion tonnes of iron ore.