Yindjibarndi call on WA Government to appoint mediator in dispute with FMG


Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation (YAC) Media Release – http://yindjibarndi.org.au/yindjibarndi/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/Yindj...

Date of publication: 
18 July 2011

Roebourne, WA – The Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation (YAC) is calling on the State Government to step in to help end the bitter dispute between the Yindjibarndi people and iron ore producer FMG over a proposed multi billion dollar mine in Western Australia’s Pilbara region.

The parties have so far failed to reach what the YAC believes is a fair and equitable agreement for access to mine country south of Roebourne, which the Yindjibarndi call home.

YAC Chief Executive Michael Woodley says last night’s ABC’s Four Corners investigation highlighted the broken relationship with FMG, and he wants the WA Government to step in by appointing an independent mediator.

“We want to return to the negotiating table to strike a deal which will secure a bright future for the next generation of Yindjibarndi. But, we will not give away control of our country for a song,” he said.

“I believe the right way to end this dispute is for the State Government to help broker a fair commercial agreement with FMG, that acknowledges our standing as the people of this land, and that offers us real choice and participation,” said Mr Woodley.

FMG’s Solomon Hub project is estimated to be worth $280 billion. FMG has offered the Yindjibarndi people a fixed-price $4 million a year cash payment and further money tied to an investment in indigenous employment over which the Yindjibarndi will have no control.

“We believe it is not fair or equitable. This is a tiny offer compared to industry standards,” said Mr Woodley.

FMG Chief, Andrew Forrest, claims uncapping payments could be seen as mining welfare, and he wants to free Aboriginal communities from a ‘hand out’ mentality. But, that suggests that we can’t manage our own affairs.”

“Mr Forrest fails to understand that Yindjibarndi want to grow their own communities and structures according to our own minds and aspirations, not the ambition and ideology of big mining companies, which have a clear commercial agenda,” he said.

“True self-development happens when the will and spirit of a people are at the center; where respect, equal treatment, and a real chance to develop exists; not when a mining magnate bearing promises holds out his hand and tells you to eat out of it.”

Uncertainty surrounds the Solomon Hub project with three mining leases still before the full bench of the Federal Court.

“We want to secure a bright future for our young people, and have a responsibility to fight for what is right and just.”

MEDIA CONTACT: Michael Woodley, CEO Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation 0419 097 130 mwoodley [at] juluwarlu [dot] com [dot] au

For background & research materials please visit: www.yindjibarndi.org.au