French miner Areva says it respects the process the Federal Government has established for its Koongarra uranium deposit in the Northern Territory.
The deposit, estimated to contain around 14,000 tonnes of uranium, is located on land owned by the Northern Land Council, the regional indigenous representative body.
The Council’s most senior elder, Jeffrey Lee, has stopped Areva from mining the deposit and aims to offer the land to the Federal Government for inclusion in the Kakadu National Park.
Federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett has so far offered his support for the plans
“The opportunity to include land adjacent to the park, but not currently incorporated into the Kakadu boundary, is clearly one that I would be keen to see realised,” he said.
“Whilst there are important questions of indigenous rights and natural justice that need to be worked through, this is a once in a generation opportunity that I would naturally encourage.
“I expect that those processes will continue to run their course.”
The mining company released a statement this morning, saying it respected this process and would fully co-operate as it it examines these very complex issues.
“In particular, it welcomes Peter Garrett’s comments that there are important questions of Indigenous rights and natural justice that need to be worked through and those processes will continue to run their course,” the company said.
The Koongarra deposit is located near the tourist attraction Nourlangie Rock, a sacred site for the traditional owners.