29/04/2009 - 17:07

No native title deal for Aurox project

29/04/2009 - 17:07

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The Ngarluma Aboriginal Corporation has called on Premier Colin Barnett to put Aurox Resources' Balla Balla iron ore project on hold after claiming the company refused to negotiate a native title deal.

The Ngarluma Aboriginal Corporation has called on Premier Colin Barnett to put Aurox Resources' Balla Balla iron ore project on hold after claiming the company refused to negotiate a native title deal.

 

The announcement is below:

 

An Indigenous Group from Roebourne in the resource rich Pilbara region of Western Australia has called on Premier Colin Barnett to demonstrate his commitment to Indigenous partnerships with resource projects by putting on hold an iron ore magnetite project announced by Aurox Resources Ltd.

News that the State Government has approved the Aurox project when the company has refused to negotiate with the Native Title holders has angered the Ngarluma Aboriginal Corporation which is the recognised holder of the Native Title over the area in which Aurox operates.

The Aboriginal Corporation contends that the company's refusal to meet Native Title obligations renders its mining lease invalid.

Spokesman and Indigenous Solicitor Steven Dhu said today "the Premier Mr. Barnett has trumpeted the Governments commitment to a partnership between Governments, Woodside and the KLC yet approves the Aurox project when there has been no attempt to create any sort of native title agreement by the company with the Traditional Owners"

"The Ngarluma People are the acknowledged Traditional Owners of the lands covered by Aurox Resources' Balla Balla magnetite project near Whim Creek in the Pilbara. We hold Native Title to those lands, a Native Title that we won in 2005 in the Federal Court of Australia after a 13 year battle.

"Despite this, Aurox refuses to make a Native Title and heritage protection agreement with us. The EPA, in assessing the Balla Balla project earlier this year, made the mistake of accepting Aurox's word that it will do a cultural heritage management plan with us. Based on our dealings with the company to now, we don't believe that the company will do this. Any plan needs to be part of an agreement with us.

Mr Dhu said that over two years ago, in a letter agreement, Aurox promised to negotiate in good faith to make such an agreement. Despite many reminders, the company has never done that, ignoring the agreement that NAC had sent for them to look at.

"We were mistaken to have taken the company's word that it would do the right thing by the Traditional Owners" he said.

Aurox was granted a mining lease without the Government putting it through the processes of the Native Title Act. NAC contends that therefore Aurox's mining lease is not valid.

It is time Aurox started behaving in a proper, respectful way to make our agreement. The agreement will allow all of the company's tenements and approvals to be made and we can withdraw our objections. We ask that the company get on and make that agreement immediately and start dealing properly with the Traditional Owners"

Mr Dhu said that there has been a long history of Aurox dismissing the concerns of the Ngarluma in its project preparation.

 

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