Traditional owners bitter about failed NT mines

Roper River traditional landowners have expressed a ‘once bitten, twice shy’ philosophy about future mining developments in the Top End after the collapse of two iron ore juniors.

A full council meeting of the Northern Land Council (NLC) this week saw anger expressed over the broken promise of mining jobs, and lingering questions about environmental rehabilitation.

Sherwin Iron and Western Desert Resources folded last year after low iron ore prices made projects unsustainable.

The ABC reported NLC member Grace Daniels was wary of promises of economic development in the Northern Territory.

"If they come and talk to us about another mine, we'll say no because we know what had happened now," she said.

NLC chief executive Joe Morrison said the suppressed commodity prices meant it was unlikely the mines would be taken over by other operators.

"It's very obvious that people in the Roper River and Borroloola regions are extremely disappointed with the closure of those two mines," he said.

Morrison also pointed out that royalties were still owing to traditional landowners after the Western Desert collapse.

"It [Western Desert] promised a lot and effectively delivered nothing for traditional owners," he said.

"It did employ lots of Aboriginal people in the start-up phase and that was absolutely a fantastic thing they achieved in the early stages of it.

"But obviously that wasn't followed through and that leaves not just traditional owners out of royalties but also Aboriginal people out of a job."

Morrison said site rehab matters were now at the whim of the receivers of the company’s in administration.

Sherwin Iron went into administration in July 2014 after CCPIB Credit Investments refused to release development funds to the company.

Western Desert Resources collapsed after only ten months of production at the Roper Bar mine, due to high operating costs and a halt to funding by Macquarie Group.

Image: ABC

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