BHP Billiton Iron Ore says it has signed one of the most significant native-title agreements with Pilbara traditional owners that permits mining on their country for one hundred years.
Existing and future mining operations in the area owned by BHP will be covered by the deal, which replaces a smaller agreement made in 2012.
The area signed covers over 8,000 sq. km, extending northeast of the mining town of Newman and westward toward Port Hedland, which houses the company’s port and rail facilities.
According to BHP Billiton Iron Ore president Jimmy Wilson, “The agreement provides a long-term certainty for both BHP’s future developments and the Banjima people’s requirement to respect their lands.”
“It moves us away from transaction-based engagement to an ongoing and open relationship that will span generations to come,” Wilson said.
Up to 400 Banjima people, who gained their native title rights in 2013, will receive benefits and access to employment, as well as an unspecified sum of royalty payments that could amount to billions of dollars.
Despite gaining mutual respect through the agreement, Banjima and BHP had not formally decided on training and employment opportunities or support for Aboriginal business development.
It is understood that the 3,000-plus page agreement facilitates payments to the Banjima people based on BHP’s iron ore production and the price of the commodity.