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NLC supports TO concerns on MRM

Posted: Fri, October 02, 2015

TOs protest Glencore’s MacArthur River Mine operations in October last year

THE Northern Land Council shares the concerns of Traditional Aboriginal Owners about the operation of the McArthur River Mine near Borroloola, owned by Glencore.

CEO Joe Morrison said the NLC had always stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Traditional Owners in their opposition to the operation of the mine by successive owners.

“In 2006/2007 the NLC conducted a successful court challenge on behalf of Traditional Owners to the decision by the then Labor Government to approve MRM's plan to divert the McArthur River so that its mine could become open cut," Mr Morrison said.

"Sadly, the then Labor government conquered that court decision by over-riding legislation. It also chose to ignore the recommendations of the time from its own bureaucracy about the need to enforce strict sanctions and conditions on the open-cut operation.

"The Independent Monitor reported late last year a portfolio of concerns about serious environmental problems. That's what's given rise to the demand for an increased security bond.

"The NLC supports the NT Government's efforts to secure a bigger seurity bond from Glencore in the event of the mine's closure and the need to remediate damage and threats to the natural environment. If the Labor Government had imposed an adequate bond at the time it allowed Glencore to run an open cut operation, this current mess could have been avoided.

"But no-one will sleep easy until Glencore is held to account and the money to back a new, realistic security bond is deposited in the bank.

"Both MRM and the NT Government need to keep Traditional Owners and the community of Borroloola informed about their intentions. The whole sorry history of this mine has demonstrated a lack of transparency. The company and the government need to be more open in their dealings with Aboriginal people, rather than divide them.

"Aboriginal people living in the Gulf know full well the grief that's caused by inadequate oversight of mining operations on their country. The ongoing environmental disaster at the Redbank copper mine near the Queensland border is evidence of that."