Fear of losing native title rights – Traditional owners were forced to negotiate with Adani

Traditional owners in central Queensland have voted in favor of allowing a coal mine to be opened by Adani in central Queensland but they said they could have lost all of their native title rights if they failed to negotiate with the Indian businessman.

Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA)  was registered on Friday by Native Title Tribunal along with Wangan and Jagalingou People (W&J) for the Carmichael mine, north-west of Clermont.

In a statement, the mining company said “The company has worked positively and constructively with elected leaders within W&J over several years to ensure that the company’s mine at Carmichael not only proceeds, but proceeds with the benefits of the mine being realised by traditional owners at every stage of the project,”

W&J spokesman Patrick Malone said only 7 of 12  native title claimants supported the mine. He added that the other few have taken the legal action to stop the project.

“Each of us applicants got a letter from the Coordinator-General saying because we weren’t willing to engage with certain people they were preparing to start proceedings to extinguish native title against all Wangan Jagalingou Country,” he said.

“The seven of us decided it’s all about having our native title recognized so we went back to Adani and said we’re willing to negotiate ILUA with you.”

Malone also said claimants who opposed the projects lived in capital cities and those supported the mine lived in Indigenous communities like Woorabinda and Cherbourg.

He added that most of the approvals needed for the mine are done and they are just waiting for a nod from the native title claimants.

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“Most of the environmental approvals and the other approvals that Adani needed had already been granted and were in place and the only thing outstanding was to do ours [approval by native title claimants], and I along with the other six really didn’t want to lose our native title,” he said.

After battling environmental protests and regulatory hurdles for seven years, Adani Enterprises is now facing the legal battle from Traditional Owners. The owners have launched a fresh legal challenge to the challenge the land use agreement at Adani’s proposed Carmichael mine.

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