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Groundbreaking move

Monday, 12th March, 2012

Aboriginal Land Council looks at mining

By Paula Doran

In a groundbreaking move, the NSW Aboriginal Land Council (NSWALC) has applied for a mining exploration licence that covers over 300,000 square kilometres of land south east of White Cliffs.

The application is one of three the group has applied for in the state, and is the first time a Land Council has attempted to step into the mining industry in such a way.

In all three applications the Land Council is searching for petroleum and gas.

Geoff Scott, Council CEO said mining was one of the avenues the group would pursue so that it could build on state-wide income to then put back into aboriginal communities.

“Traditionally, Aboriginal organisations have only ever received scraps from mining,” he said.

“This endeavour is about ensuring that Aboriginal people of NSW have a seat at the table.

“It is the first time in Australian history that an Aboriginal organisation like NSWALC has taken the lead in mining. We want real independence, and petroleum and gas exploration is one of the avenues we’re pursuing which we believe may assist us in that goal,” Mr Scott said.

“This strategy is about Aboriginal people breaking through into the real economy, and driving financial benefits back into the land rights network.

“It’s a paradigm shift. It’s about us having a seat at the table, rather than waiting for the scraps.”

Other media outlets report the land rights council, which was set up in the 1970s to fight for land rights, has hundreds of millions of dollars in the coffers.

In the past the Council’s role has included funding of water and sewerage services to remote communities - recently contributing $100 million over 25 years to a joint venture with the NSW Government in this area.

On the mining front, the NSWALC have already done geological studies in the three application areas and have signed up with a joint venture partner with expertise in the industry. They say studies so far show enormous potential for mineral development.

As well as the White Cliff’s application, they have applied for exploration licenses on the north coast of NSW.

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