In an Australian first, Prime Minister Julia Gillard has signed a lease agreement between a mining company and traditional land owners.
Despite claims yesterday from some Aboriginal residents in the area that they had not been consulted on the lease and would be boycotting the ceremonial signing, it went ahead without incident.
The agreement allows the company to mine bauxite on more than 22 000 hectares of land surrounding the town of Nhulunbuy in the Northern Territory for 42 years.
Since the 1960’s bauxite mining has been occurring in the region without permission from indigenous land owners, which was a major contributor to the lands right movement in the country.
Hundreds of Yolgnu people gathered at the ceremony yesterday, where Gillard said the mining lease was an example of respect and responsibility.
She also renewed her call for Indigenous people to be recognised in the constitution.
The full leadership of the Northern Land Council flew in for the event, along with Indigenous Affairs Minister Jenny Macklin.
Macklin last month denied concerned Arnhem Land residents were not properly consulted in the lead up to the agreement.
The Datiwuy, Golumala, Marrakula and Marranga clans, which make up the Dhurili nation may take legal action against the federal government and the Northern Land Council (NLC) for what they say was a lack of consultation.
In response to 50 people writing to the minister saying they were traditional owners who were not acknowledged in the negotiations, the NLC says it has consulted the correct people.
Macklin agrees with the NLC, denying mistakes were made due to incorrect anthropological work.’
Arnhem Land elder Djiniyinni Gondarra said his people are traditional owners too and they were not consulted.
Reverend Gondarra, of the of the Drurili Nation clan says some clan groups are missing out on millions of dollars in royalties.
Image: The ABC