Battle continues over right to develop Cape York bauxite mine

Traditional owners of a bauxite lode at Aurukun are moving ahead with plans to block Glencore from developing the project after submitting an Indigenous Land Use Agreement with the federal tribunal.

Traditional owners of a bauxite lode at Aurukun are moving ahead with plans to block Glencore from developing the project after submitting an Indigenous Land Use Agreement with the federal tribunal.

In August, the Queensland government listed Glencore as the ‘preferred proponent’ for the Aurukun bauxite project in Cape York.

However traditional owners not happy with this decision have signed a historic Indigenous Land Use Agreement with Aurukun Bauxite Developments (ABD), which had also applied for the lease.

Partnering with ABD and Ngan Aak Kunch (NAK), the deal means the Wik and Wik Way native titleholders would hold a 15 per cent equity share in any ABD-led mining operation.

Papers lodged with the National Native Title Trib­unal last week outline the agreement and will be assessed.

When the Queensland government handed the mine lease to Glencore, it noted that ABD failed to show it had the “technical and financial capacity’’ to develop the mine.

However ABD chairman Nick Stump dismissed these claims at the time.

Stumps has slammed the government for the way it handled the bidding process, stating that on the 28th of August it reopened bids and on the same day awarded the rights to Glencore.

Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney said it was merely a technical formality to reinstate bidding, and talks with both companies had been ongoing since March when the government found that neither company could deliver the mine.

Seeney told The Weekend Australian ABD did not have the credentials to deliver on the project when he came to reassess the bid in August.

“I came to the conclusion that … 15 per cent of nothing is still nothing,’’ Seeney said.

“…they had nothing behind their proposal, and while their proposal was attractive to the people of Aurukun and the traditional owners, it was a false proposal … the last thing the government wanted to see was the people of Aurukun taken in by another false proposal.”

Marcia Langton, professor of Australian indigenous studies at the University of Melbourne said the Indigenous Land Use Agreement was a “binding contract” and mining in the area could not go ahead without it.

A Glencore spokeswoman told The Australian that discussions with native title holders in the region had not yet commenced.

“Despite numerous attempts to contact them, we have had some difficulties … we would need to work through next year, if we were to press on,’’ she said.

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