Groote Eylandt seabed mining sinks

Traditional owners have won a fight to ban seabed mining around Groote Eylandt in the Gulf of Carpentaria after the Northern Territory Government issued a total ban.

Australian Mining reported yesterday the local Anindilyakwa Land Council asked Chief Minister Adam Giles to permanently ban seabed mining.

While the government and the council have a regional partnership agreement for expanding local businesses and youth services, traditional owners wanted more details on the future of seabed mining.

Council chairman Tony Wurramarrba told Giles the community is against seabed mining in waters around the island.

Chief Minister Adam Giles said while it was a difficult choice to ban any seabed mining in waters around the island, the government had to listen to the environmental apprehensions of traditional owners.

According to the ABC, he said the government is prioritising environment over business fears, adding seabed mining is an untested science that could affect the environment.

Traditional owners were afraid seabed mining would destroy the seabed and cultural songlines.

Giles blamed the previous Labor government for approving Northern Manganese exploration licences and then issuing a three-year suspension on seabed mining and exploration in the Territory.

Giles is looking at recompensing Northern Manganese.

Lloyd Jones from Northern Manganese said other opinions need to be heard before extending the moratorium.

His company is looking explore Groote Eylandt.

“Groote Eylandt are one group. We have had, and are in, ongoing discussions with the community of Blue Mud Bay, who are 100 per cent supportive of our applications,” Jones said.

Members of the Territory Cabinet were on the island 600 kilometres south-east of Darwin for two days, where locals insisted on a total ban.

Commonwealth waters or waters across from Groote Eylandt near Blue Mud Bay will not be impacted.

Groote Eylandt's economy is almost completely dependent on production and royalties from the large Gemco land-based mine.

Gemco exports around five million tonnes of manganese a year, which is used for steel.