Rifts within Indigenous community against Upper Hunter mining

An indigenous protest group in Upper Hunter have been labelled a noisy minority group by a local Aboriginal corporation.

The Wonnarua Nation aboriginal corporation told the ABC the protesters in Sydney calling themselves the “Plains Clans of the Wonnarua People” are not representative of the Indigenous community in the region.

The group is bringing its protest to Sydney today, rallying in front of Parliament house to fight plans by Ashton Coal for a new mine in Camberwell, which they say will destroy Aboriginal artefacts and sacred sites.

But Wonnarua Nation aboriginal corporation CEO Laurie Perry said the protestors are not representing the view held by the majority of the corporation’s 300 members and environmental concerns raised by their spokesman Scott Franks are invalid.

"What he’s said about the traditional areas we don’t believe are true at all. The environmental issues it’s been to the Government it’s done all the reports,"he told the ABC.

"The archaeological testing and all that sort of stuff and environmentally the Government see it as something that is going to not harm the environment"

According to Perry, the corporation has four separate mining agreements in place across Newcastle and the Hunter Valley.

Issues of mining on traditional Indigenous land have been in the media recently, most notably the disagreements between some Yindjibarndi people in Western Australian and Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest’s Fortescue Metals Group, over proposals to mine part of the land.

Similarly to the current situation in the Hunter, some protestors against FMG’s proposal to mine part of the land in exchange for $10 million per year in infrastructure, education and cash, have been labelled by other Indigenous people in the region as a minority who do not represent the view of the rest of the community.

The comments were made in a video released by FMG in response to one created by the Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation, which said the mining company had not treated the traditional land owners fairly.

FMG succeeded in getting the original video removed from web host Vimeo, but it is still available on YouTube and has resulted in death threats directed towards Forrest.

Energy Resources Australia (ERA) is also under pressure from traditional land owners to close its Ranger mine in the Kakadu National Park.

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