The Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation has launched an extraordinary attack on Fortescue Metals Group ant the Native Title Act in the wake of Friday’s Federal Court dismissal of its appeal over three mining leases in the Pilbara.
The Federal Court dismissed an appeal by the corporation against the state government’s decision to grant three mining leases to Fortescue on Friday, a decision which appeared to pave the way for the development of the company’s Solomon Hub.
The Yindjibarndi group had objected to the leases being granted because of the cultural significance of the land.
“This confirms what we have known all along, that the Native Title Act is a bad piece of legislation that consistently works against the interests of the first Australians,” Mr Woodley said.
“What is worse is that the system gives us no chance against the teams of company lawyers, land access managers and FMG’s unlimited war chest. The deck has been stacked against us.”
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.
Mr Woodley said the group was particularly concerned Fortescue was attempting to convince Yindjibarndi members to sign a whole-of-country agreement.
He said the agreement would lock the Yindjibarndi into a deal far short of industry standards and deprived the people of the opportunity to benefit from the vast wealth of the lands.
Fortescue chief executive Nev Power reiterated after the Federal Court’s judgement on Friday that the agreement it had reached was supported by the majority of the Yindjibarndi community.
“We are pleased this judgement confirms previous decisions granting these mining leases for our Solomon Hub mine,” Mr Power 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.”