Current Projects

Current Projects

Federal Senate Inquiry - development of bauxite mining near Aurukun, Cape York

On 24 November 2015, the Senate referred an inquiry into the development of bauxite resources near Aurukun in Cape York to the Senate Economics References Committee for inquiry and report by 31 March 2016

Here is a copy of our submission to the Senate Inquiry.

To see all the other publicly available submissions, head to the Senate page: http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Economics/Bauxite_Resources

High Court Action

The operation of the so-called ­Aurukun provisions of the Queensland Mineral Resources Act are set to come under scrutiny in the High Court after Cape York landholders convinced the court to hear a legal challenge.

The Wik and Wik Way people, freehold and native title ­holders of land that holds rich bauxite deposits, claim the ­Aurukun provisions of the act are inconsistent with the commonwealth Racial Discrimination Act.

Yesterday, following a brief hearing in Brisbane, judge Susan Kiefel agreed the case fell into the High Court’s jurisdiction.

The Ngan Aak-Kunch Aboriginal Corporation Registered ­Native Title Body Corporate, which manages the native title rights and interests of the Wik and Wik Way peoples, launched the High Court action after the Queensland government ­ignored their pleas to repeal ­provisions in the Mineral Resources Act that govern mining in Aurukun.

The Aurukun provisions were introduced by the Beattie government in 2006 and apply only to the Wik people of Cape York. The provisions suspend rights to appeal against or object to Queensland government decisions that relate to mineral development ­licences and mining leases.

In its statement of claim filed in the High Court, the NAK Aboriginal Corporation asks the court to rule that section 231K of the ­Mineral Resources Act is invalid. It also asks for a declaration that ordinary provisions that ­relate to mineral development licences and mining leases also apply to projects at Aurukun.

The case comes after Campbell Newman’s government last year named Swiss mining giant Glencore as preferred ­proponent of a rich bauxite ­mining tenement at Aurukun, over rival Australian Bauxite ­Developments, which had proposed to give native title holders a 15 per cent stake in a proposed mine.

ABD, a start-up chaired by former Comalco and MIM chief executive Nick Stump with local indigenous support, last year signed an indigenous land-use agreement with representatives of the Wik and Wik Way peoples to develop the bauxite fields around Aurukun. ADB argues that if its bid to develop the bauxite mining tenement had been supported by the government, it would have generated $950 million for the community over 35 years.

If the NAK Aboriginal Corporation’s High Court case is successful, it would allow native title holders to appeal against the government’s decision to appoint Glencore as preferred proponent of the Aurukun mining tenement.

Robinson, N (20 August 2015 - The Australian)

Read here for more details: http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/indigenous/cape-york-landholders-challenge-to-be-heard-in-high-court/news-story/ba8c9df3b2813c91089cf061f3d58821

Past Projects

2015

We produced a simple flyer for our recent AGM (29th Feb 2016) to summarise what our Board got up to in 2015.

2014

We signed an exclusive and landmark Indigenous Land Use Agreement

After years of discussions and negotiations, on 19 September 2014, we officially signed a landmark agreement with Aurukun Bauxite Development Pty Ltd (our joint-venture partners). This company used to be called Australian Indigenous Resources Pty Ltd, but was renamed in May 2014 when they restructured to include us and private equity partners.

This exclusive agreement provide us (Wik Native Title Holders) with fifteen (15%) fully carried, non-diluting, interest in the bauxite project near our Aurukun township. This bauxite deposit is known as RA315, and has been the target of many decades of multinational warehousing it for their own trading benefit. But it was our elders that decided to take matters into our own hands, and ensure that we had backing, an experienced workforce (supported by ABD, Thiess and Ngarda) to bid to mine our own land. We see that the way out of our welfare cycle is through a partnership arrangement. This is true participation in the economy, not just getting sit down money. ABD’s mission - as we negotiated with them - is to reach 70% indigenous employment by year 7 of operation, supported by an intensive job specific training. This ILUA (QI2014/087), formally concluded its registration process with the National Native Title Tribunal on 25 February 2015 (commenced in December 2014). A registration extract can be found below for those that are interested to read more about this landmark agreement.

We are determined to see the benefits of the mining operation shared throughout the broader community of Wik and Wik Way People. We don't want to be another indigenous community stuck with royalty handouts and no hope - it's time to show Australia how its done - it's time to show them the Wik Way to sustainably mine bauxite on native title lands.

2013

Aboriginal Freehold Land Transfer

Following the successful native title determinations, NAK sought assistance from the State Government in having the land we successfully claimed, returned to us.

The State Government has agreed, and on 18 September 2013 Stage 1 of this process occurred.   NAK has been granted the rights and responsibility of managing about 7,500 square kilometres within the bounds of the Aurukun Shire Council.

Stage 2 is in the initial planing phases, and will incorporate land to the south of the Aurukun Shire boundary, within the northern reaches of the Pormpuraaw DOGIT and some land within the Napranum DOGIT to the north.

The State Government has done some preliminary survey work to determine the boundaries, and NAK will be speaking with families from the affected area to let them know how the changes will affect them.  This is expected to take another year or so to bring to a conclusion.

Aurukun Bauxite

The Queensland State Government is currently assessing proposals from three companies wishing to mine the Aurukun Bauxite deposit, within the area known as Restricted Area 315 (RA315). 

A decision as to the preferred proponent is due in mid February 2014, and soon after that, NAK will be commencing discussions with families and the chosen mining company to determine the kind of benefits that the mine will generate to help make the community strong into the future.  We will be focusing on training, jobs and business opportunities for Wik, Wik Way and Kugu families throughout the Cape.

World Heritage Nomination

Former Minister for the environment, Tony Burke, requested that no nomination for World Heritage status be brought until the traditional owners of Cape York had considered the ramifications and decided for themselves to nominate (or not).

As the representative body for Wik and Wik Way Peoples, Ngan Aak-Kunch entered into a funding agreement with the Department of the Environment, to undertake a series of camps. This was a great opportunity to ask families to go on country and consider their future, and the futures of their children and grandchildren.

They were asked to consider how they planned on achieving the futures they saw, and whether World Heritage was the appropriate mechanism to help the get there.

More than 200 traditional owners attended the camps – which far exceeded expectations. Despite the challenges, there was great discussion and strategic planning for the future.

A series of follow up meetings will be held in Aurukun in early 2014, to determine the final answers of the traditional owners, as to whether a nomination should be put forward or not.

APN took on the job of running the camps, and provided an amazing service to the traditional owners on getting them on country, and keeping everybody safe during their time at the camps. On behalf of everyone involved, Ngan Aak-Kunch thanks them for their outstanding efforts, and looks forward to finishing the process in good time, with the best information available from families.

Exploration/Mining Requests

NAK is currently being asked to provide consultation services for several organisations seeking to explore options to mine various areas of traditional land not affected by RA315.

These requests are primarily for mineral sand deposits.  Affected families will be contacted to discuss the proposals.

Any organisation seeking to have their submission assessed should contact Mr Philip Hunter of HWL Ebsworth, Lawyers.