MEDIA RELEASE – JULY 15, 2009
MINISTER GARRETT URGED TO REVIEW DECISION TO APPROVE BEVERLEY FOUR MILE URANIUM MINE
TRADITIONAL OWNERS AWAITING HERITAGE INVESTIGATION
STOP THE BULLYING, LIES AND DECEIT
Federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett has approved the expansion of uranium mining based on incomplete evidence. This proposal is claimed by Adnyamathanha Traditional Owners to be in breach of regulations governing Aboriginal heritage protection. Traditional Owners of the controversial Beverley uranium mine are calling on Minister Garrett to urgently place a halt on this mining license and review the approval process. No further approvals should be granted until this matter is fully investigated.
The SA Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Jay Weatherill has formally committed to an independent investigation of Aboriginal Heritage concerns following a series of long-standing concerns being raised by Adnyamathanha Traditional Owners. This investigation is not yet complete. Traditional Owners believe an essential part of the approval process has not been met and the approval given yesterday was not a responsible federal government decision.
This investigation comes following concerns raised by Traditional Owners via the Public Environment Report, at Adnyamathanha Elders meetings, and via reports made to the United Nations for their ill-treatment. The federal Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Jenny Macklin was also contacted in May 2009 by Traditional Owner and Native Title Named Applicant Thathy (Geraldine) Anderson, who urged Macklin to take action and stop the Four Mile expansion. A response was never received from Macklin.
The parent company to Heathgate Resources is General Atomics, an American giant. Traditional Owners are calling on General Atomics to hold off on development works at the Four Mile site until the matters raised by Traditional Owners have been investigated and properly clarified.
July 14 2009 marks yet another date when the Aboriginal Affairs Minister Jay Weatherill refuses to take responsibility for the protection of Aboriginal Heritage in South Australia. Elder Enice Marsh says: “Adnyamathanha Elders wrote to Minister Weatherill weeks ago raising our concerns, and he promised to do an investigation into the Four Mile proposal. His jobs is to make sure heritage laws are followed. If he won’t use his powers he should be sacked.
“We are calling on the SA and federal governments to follow the requirements of the Aboriginal Heritage Act and immediately put a stop to the granting of a mining license over the Beverley Four Mile proposal until this matter has been properly investigated.
“We have no decision making power under Native Title, we have been forced into signing a Native Title Mining Agreement that gives us royalty compensation. If we refused to sign it the proponent has the right to take the matter to the ERD Court and cut us out of the process altogether.
“Aboriginal people have no rights under Native Title to protect out heritage. Look at what’s already happened and how people have just given in to the pressures.
“Our concerns were raised in the public consultation process when the PER was released and we were ignored. We have written to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and we await his investigation. What more can we do to protect our land from being raped by mining companies that are allowed to pollute the water and carve up the waterways, even contaminate the soil with radioactive waste? The general public need to know what is going on and ordinary people need to take action to stop the abuse of our environment.
“I say again as an Elder: There have been many attempts over the past 10 years to try and bring greater accountability to what’s happening in Native Title, and to stop the ongoing assault on our Yarta (country). Many of us have tried with very little resources, limited understanding of the legal system and environmental laws, and despite a mountain of bullying, lies and deceit from mining companies, lawyers, and self-inflated thugs in our own community who dare to call themselves ‘leaders’.
“The real decision making rests with Jay Weatherill and Jenny Macklin (Ministers for Aboriginal Affairs) and Peter Garrett (Minister for the Environment). You are the people who can take action to stop the ongoing destruction of our cultural sites,” Mrs Marsh concluded.
PRESS RELEASE 15 June 2009
Mining Industry and SA Government in Breach of Human Rights.
Indigenous people of the northern Flinders Ranges, members of the Adnyamathanha group claim there are outrageous pressures being placed on them and their community to ‘sell out’ on their land and give up on their right to cultural freedom for the sake of more uranium mining.
Over the past 12 months Adnyamathanha have been subjected to token consultation and negotiation on a massive scale. We have experienced a lack of detail given by Marathon Resources to Adnyamathanha at a Native Title governing Committee meeting; as part of their community consultation Marathon are giving no information to people about the mining proposal, yet demanding that Adnyamathanha agree to support mining through the signing of a Native Title Mining Agreement. This is clearly a breach of Human Rights conventions that state people are entitled to free and informed discussion prior to making any decisions. “We have every right as Traditional Owners to be concerned at the way mining companies are treating us. Not giving us the information we need to make informed decisions shows they are not acting in good faith. The SA Government has a responsibility to make sure community consultation is being done properly; not just as a token gesture toward Aboriginal people.” said one member of the Adnyamathanha community.
We have been pressured to support mining and not stand up for our country and our heritage. This spilled over in two recent NT meetings where members of the Adnyamathanha Traditional Lands Association (ATLA) haggled fiercely among themselves and with lawyers about the proposed Beverley Four Mile expansion. ATLA Members were confused and angered by the legal team’s incredible pressure to support more mining; a legal team that directly relies on further agreement-making in order to be paid. “Our lawyers are way out of line when they start talking down to us in meetings like we are nothing. They meet in secret with the men, huddled in a corner so no-one else can hear what they are discussing. They know that by pressuring the men and dividing us up there is a greater chance these mining deals will get carried.” said Geraldine Anderson, one of the long standing Native Title Named Applicants for the Adnyamathanha claim. “Our menfolk need to start standing their ground, speak up and protect our country, and not be fooled by the promise of a little bit of money and power” said another spokesperson. “We were told that one of the old men even got cornered in the toilet by a lawyer, demanding to know where there were secret sites on the Four Mile lease. This is disgraceful behaviour and gives us no confidence that the lawyers are there to work for us; looks more like they are just there to line their own pockets.” says Geraldine Anderson.
Women who are holders of cultural knowledge are being systematically abused and marginalised, often by our own people. “As women we have been sworn at, ridiculed, abused physically and verbally while doing site clearance work; and the mining company people just ignore what’s happening. We know from our first hand experiences that Heathgate don’t want to support what the women have to say because we want to save our sites, not let them get bulldozed, drilled, destroyed. Most men will just give in, but not us women.”
Native Title negotiations are failing to protect Adnyamathanha sites and ignoring cultural values. A recent site inspection was conducted by Heathgate Resources with Adnyamathanha during the last week of April 2009 as part of the Four Mile mining proposal. This procedure known as a Native Title Work Area Clearance is claimed to be hopelessly inadequate by several people that have taken part. “We get no record of previous work done in the area, so we have to start from scratch again. Sites have been permanently damaged from the last time we were there, so what’s the point of even doing it. Heathgate don’t care, they just go where they want no matter what we say” says Enice Marsh
Many Adnyamathanha are saying that support for the Mt Gee proposal by Marathon is out of the question and enough is enough. “How many more times will mining companies be allowed to just go in and rip the guts out of country?” said one person at the meeting where Marathon presented details of their exploration activities but would not give anything on mining activities. Marathon proposes to drill a tunnel directly through Mt Gee so as to be able to connect up with the existing infrastructure at the Beverley site. “Mt Gee and Mt Painter are THE MOST sacred sites in the area targeted for mining, to drill through Mt Gee is madness.” said Mrs Anderson. If the SA Government allows the Mt Gee proposal to go ahead it would be a terrible breach of environmental and cultural rights.
The newly appointed Indigenous members on the Uranium Industry Framework board are asked to respond to the way that mining companies and Native Title lawyers are conducting their business immediately.
CONTACT: Mrs Geraldine Anderson, Adnyamathanha Elder, phone 08-86455027
PRESS RELEASE 12 June 2009
Adnyamathanha Heritage and Beverley Uranium Mine –
Native Title Community and Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Cornered into Submission
The 11th June 2009 marks the date when a select group of representatives from the Adnyamathanha Native Title community met with, wined and dined with, and submissively signed off on a new Native Title Mining ‘Agreement’ with the proponent of the Beverley Uranium Mine and Beverley Four Mile project.
“This is a shameful day for Adnyamathanha people. Money from Native Title deals is making people turn their back on what our forefathers have proudly fought for. It makes me feel really angry and upset to see how Native Title is being used to buy off our people and carve up our country.”
Adnyamathanha Native Title participants are again being wooed into submission, sucked into signing a second Native Title Mining Agreement over the Beverley mine lease, but knowing that the previous Agreement was never fully adhered to by Heathgate Resources. People feel there is little they can do to challenge this unfair situation. “If we don’t sign a new Agreement, the mining company will just take it to ERD Court and then we get nothing” one person said at a recent Native Title meeting.
But some of us say there is a lot more we can and should be doing to protect our country from unethical mining companies. We cannot allow these companies to keep going in and rape our land of its resources, leaving a trail of pollution and destruction in their pathway. There are some of us that will never give up the fight no matter how much money or power is dangled in front of us. And we will never be silent on the way that government stand by and let shoddy environmental practices and uranium mining go unchallenged.
Thursday 11th June 2009 stands as a day of sorrow and frustration by the many Adnyamathanha that do not support the continued abuse of our resources such as water and destruction of our most sacred sites. The area around Mt Gee and Mt Painter is Anngurla Yarta – very spiritual and sacred ground – it is the resting place of our Creator and should never be disturbed or damaged.
Yet the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Jay Weatherall is clearly shying away from making an effort to properly investigate our concerns. I have personally written to him several weeks ago to urgently request a determination under the Aboriginal Heritage Act, but as yet I have only received a brief acknowledgement of my letter, nothing else, not even a phone call to find out more from me about my concerns. Shame on you Minister, and shame on your government for refusing to honour the Aboriginal Heritage Act and the Aboriginal people of South Australia. This submissive approach to Aboriginal site protection in South Australia is part of an ongoing culture that offers token protection to our cultural heritage.
The current review of the Aboriginal Heritage Act is taking place right now but there are deep wounds within the Aboriginal community of South Australia that remain unhealed by past wrongdoings. So we say to our government: “Your token legislation and your Ministerial powers are nothing more than a bunch of white fellas trying to put it over Aboriginal people. You don’t fool us with your pretty talk during what you claim as ‘community consultation’ and your claims of treating Aboriginal people fairly in South Australia. Where’s your conscience Minister Weatherall, or are you just a spineless token too?”
I say these things as a long term experience as an Adnyamathanha Elder and member of the Anggumathanha Law (Camp Law) Elders Group and as one of the people that have participated many times in heritage surveys known as Work Area Clearance under Native Title. I have witnessed Heathgate Resources drilling in creek beds and flood plains … even after we have clearly said no to exploration and mining in waterways. The Four Mile area and the underground springwater are all part of an extremely mundha (sacred) part of our land. But there’s no stopping the mining company – they just keep on putting more and more pressure on our people to sign off or risk facing court action through the ERD legal system. And the thugs and bullies from within our own community keep up the intimidation to make sure there is enough people to keep signing these token ‘AGREEMENTS’
There have been many attempts over the past 10 years to try and bring greater accountability to what’s happening in Native Title, and to stop the ongoing assault on our Yarta (country). Many of us have tried with very little resources, limited understanding of the legal system and environmental laws, and despite a mountain of bullying, lies and deceit from mining companies, lawyers, and self-inflated thugs in our own community who dare to call themselves ‘leaders’.
The real decision making rests with Jay Weatherall and Jenny Macklin, Ministers for Aboriginal Affairs and Peter Garrett, Minister for the Environment. You are the people who can take action to stop the ongoing destruction of our cultural sites.
I URGE YOU TO USE YOUR MINISTERIAL POWERS TO INVESTIGATE THESE SERIOUS MATTERS, MAKE SURE THERE IS PROPER REGULATION OF ABORIGINAL CULTURAL HERITAGE.
I URGE YOU TO ACT IN FAVOUR OF TRADITIONAL OWNERS AND OUR RIGHTS TO FREELY PRACTICE OUR CULTURAL HERITAGE.
Adnyamathanha Elder and Spokesperson for Anggumathanha Law
PH: 08 86622438