18/07/2008 - 14:11

Rio in historic Aboriginal deal

18/07/2008 - 14:11

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Rio Tinto Iron Ore has agreed to pay a levy of up to $300 million over 50 years to the Ngarluma Aboriginal Corporation to cover present and future land use of the traditional owners' land.

Rio in historic Aboriginal deal

Rio Tinto Iron Ore has agreed to pay a levy over 50 years to the Ngarluma Aboriginal Corporation to cover present and future land use of the traditional owners' land.

Indigenous Affairs Minister Michelle Roberts today said the agreement provided immediate and long-lasting financial, cultural, heritage, environmental and economic benefits to the corporation and the people it represented.

"The agreement covers past, present and future land use of Ngarluma Country by Rio Tinto Iron Ore," she said.

In addition to an initial cash component, the confidential agreement included a levy being paid over 50 years which the government said could amount to hundreds of millions of dollars.

Rio Tinto would not confirm the numbers involved.

"This agreement between the Ngarluma people and Rio Tinto, shows how two organisations, with very different viewpoints and needs, can come to an agreement that benefits them both," the Minister said.

Mrs Roberts said the agreement would have flow-on benefits for the Ngarluma people, the Roebourne community and the State.

"We are experiencing a time of unprecedented growth in our resources industry, and it is important that everyone involved in the future of our State benefits from the wealth that is being generated," she said.

 

Below is an announcement from the Association of Mining and Exploration Companies welcoming the agreement:

Today's historic $200+ million agreement between the Ngarluma people and Rio Tinto Iron Ore is a welcome outcome and serves to underscore the importance of mineral exploration for the future of native title owners.

Association of Mining and Exploration Companies (AMEC) Chief Executive, Justin Walawski said agreements such as these have the potential to deliver due compensation directly to indigenous people and should be seen as a compelling reason for native title owners to encourage mineral exploration in their region.

"This agreement shows that it is very much in the interest of native title owners to allow, if not encourage, mineral exploration on their titles," Dr Walawski said.

"When producers are given the opportunity to negotiate directly with title owners, the outcomes can be very productive for both parties.

"However, before any mining can occur, the specific location, size and quality of mineral deposits must first be determined.

"Mineral exploration in Australia has decreased by more than 50 per cent in the last decade and some of that slow down can be attributed to the complex and often prohibitively expensive approvals process required to explore in native title areas.

"If the hurdles of exploring for minerals in native title areas were reduced, there would be a real increase in significant mineral discoveries and ultimately more of these agreements to benefit the native title owners.

"We hope the announcement of today's agreement will prompt a rethink of many of the costs imposed by native title representative bodies on explorers and help expedite similar agreements for others," Dr Walawski said.

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