Sheffield Resources wins native title ruling over Thunderbird project in WA

Sheffield field crew. Source: Sheffield Resources

Sheffield Resources has won the national native title tribunal (NNTT) ruling that enables it to secure a mining lease for its Thunderbird mineral sands project in the Kimberley region of Western Australia.

The traditional owners group, Mount Jowlaenga Polygon 2, lodged an appeal in June last year disputing that Sheffield Resources had not acted in good faith when interpreting the time period for which its negotiations needed to be assessed.

The latest NNTT ruling stated that Sheffield Resources had acted in good faith in its negotiations with the traditional owners.

The full federal court can now lift the stay on the determination made by the NNTT last year, and the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety can finalise the grant of a mining lease.

Sheffield Resources managing director Bruce McFadzean said, “We have received overwhelming support from local communities and local, state and federal governments for the development of Thunderbird.

“It is a world-class, multi-decade project that will create hundreds of local jobs, generate substantial business opportunities and support economic development in the Kimberley.”

The Thunderbird project will provide 280 drive-in drive-out (DIDO) full time jobs and aim to build a 40 per cent Aboriginal employment by its eighth year.

Independent of the NNTT dispute, Sheffield Resources last week reached an agreement with the traditional owner negotiation committee, who represented the Mt Jowlaenga group, on the key terms of their co-existence.

Sheffield Resources will work toward concluding the native title agreement in collaboration with the traditional owners by the end of the year.

Earlier this month, the Thunderbird project obtained an environmental approval from the Western Australian Government that would take it a step closer toward the commencement of construction.

Thunderbird is expected to start first production in 2020. The project between Derby and Broome is anticipated to feed global demands for high-quality mineral sands products over a 40-year mine life.

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