Fortescue dismisses impact of native title court ruling

Fortescue Metals Group does not expect a court ruling that went against the company in favour of an Indigenous group will have any impact on its performance.

The Federal Court yesterday awarded the Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation exclusive native title rights over land where Fortescue operates the Solomon mine in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.

However, Fortescue reported the decision would have no impact “on the current and future operations or mining tenure at the Solomon Hub”.

“We have no commercial concerns and do not anticipate any material financial impact following the court’s determination,” the company stated.

“Fortescue will continue its approach of providing training, employment and business development opportunities for Aboriginal people to ensure the strength of its business benefits the communities in which it operates.”

WA aboriginal affairs minister Ben Wyatt congratulated the Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation following the court’s decision.

“The evidence presented by the Yindjibarndi satisfied the court that the Yindjibarndi are entitled to exclusive native title rights and interests over the claimed area and the Yandeeyara Reserve because they had established that ‘a manjangu (or stranger) still has to obtain permission from a Yindjibarndi elder before entering or carrying out activity on Yindjibarndi country,” Wyatt said.

“Like many other litigated areas of native title, this has been a difficult and drawn-out process for the Yindjibarndi people, and has caused fractures within their community.”

The claim, first lodged in 2003, was one of the longest running native title cases in Australia, according to Wyatt.