Rio Tinto signs MoU for bauxite mine in northeast Arnhem Land

Saturday, Aug 17, 2013

As Aboriginal leaders call for their communities to become economically independent, the people of northeast Arnhem Land may soon own their own mine.

At the Garma Festival held over the weekend on a Yolngu site 14 kilometers outside of Nhulunbuy, the Gumatj Aboriginal Corporation and Rio Tinto owned Gove Operations have signed a memorandum of understanding to carry out a feasibility study for bauxite mining on Gumatj lands in northeast Arnhem Land.

Should the mine prove to be commercially feasible it would be owned and operated by the Gumatj Aboriginal Corporation, something welcomed by community leader Mr Galarrwuy Yunupingu as giving substance to a desire for self sufficiency by allowing Aboriginal people to commercially develop their land.

He said that Aboriginal people wanted to have the same opportunities to earn income from their land the way non-indigenous people do. You're earning money, banking money, and you see your money it grows, it grows. That's the way of living Aboriginal people want, too. My word, we would like to try that.

Mr Ryan Cavanagh GM of Gove Operations said that “Collaborating to foster economic independence for the Yolngu people is a key commitment in the Gove traditional owners agreement signed in 2011. The company will support the Gumatj in their efforts to create a viable and sustainable bauxite mining operation by developing an exploration program to prove up the quantity and quality of potential bauxite reserves on Gumatj land. This is an important step for the Gumatj, to own and operate a bauxite mine on their country."

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