Native title holders in the Pilbara will seek compensation after winning their long-running battle with iron ore miner Fortescue Metals Group. In a judgment on Thursday, the Federal Court awarded the Yindjibarndi people exclusive rights over a section of Pilbara land where Fortescue operates the Solomon mine.
Shortly after the judgment was handed down, senior Yindjibarndi lawman Michael Woodley vowed to launch a compensation claim against the iron ore miner.
“We believe strongly they are liable for what they’ve been doing for the last eight years on our country, mining without our … prior and informed consent,” Mr Woodley told the ABC. In his decision, Justice Steven Rares pointed to the presence of the Yindjibarndi in the area well before European settlement and the fact there were important cultural sites near the Fortescue mine.
“I have found that the Yindjibarndi are entitled to exclusive native title rights and interests over all of the unallocated Crown land in the claimed area and the Yandeeyara Reserve, except for a small area occupied by the Tom Price railway,” he said.
“This includes the unallocated Crown land occupied by FMG’s Solomon Hub mine.” Justice Rares said this stemmed from the fact that the Yindjibarndi had established that under their customs a “manjangu” (stranger) still had to get permission from an elder before entering or carrying out activity on the land.
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