In the heart of iron ore country in Western Australia’s Pilbara region, brothers Murray and Ray Kennedy are standing their ground against the mining industry.
The veteran pastoralists have run Roy Hill cattle station for over forty years but they have become an endangered species.
Many Pilbara stations have been bought up by mining companies but the Kennedys, now in their twilight years, have refused to move on. “I don’t see why we should,” Murray Kennedy said. “Not at 25 percent of the value of the property, no way, that’s just robbery.”
The brothers are well-known in the Pilbara for their tough negotiating skills and the colourful characters are rarely seen without their pet dingo, Baby. “She’s the boss,” Ray Kennedy said with a laugh.
“She rounds up Murray and I and we’ve got to do as we’re told. Simple, she’s a bloody female.” Baby even has her own security pass to the nearby Fortescue Metals Group’s (FMG) Christmas Creek mine and has a meeting room at the mine-site named after her.
“They’re the gentleman’s miners,” Murray Kennedy said of mining magnate Andrew Forrest’s company FMG.
But the 72-year-old is not as complimentary about other neighbours.
“The mines are gradually eating into our pastoral lease, preventing us from making a decent living,” he said.
“These bloody miners want us to subsidise them.”
Power line fight against Gina Rinehart
A $10 billion iron ore project by Australia’s richest person, Gina Rinehart, is the latest arrival in the Kennedys’ backyard.
The brothers reached a deal with Roy Hill Holdings, which is 70 per cent owned by Mrs Rinehart’s company Hancock Prospecting, to allow the mine to go ahead on a portion of their lease.
Since then, the company has built up a good relationship with the Kennedys, according to Roy Hill manager Darryl Hockey.
“I’ll quite often drop in with some sausage rolls and cakes, but yes, we’ve got a great relationship with them,” he said.
“They’ve got that good old Aussie outback spirit, they know what they want and they push for it.”
“But, they do that in a very respectful way.”
However, plans for an overhead transmission line to power the new Roy Hill mine is testing the fragile peace
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