Today, in Australia, it is increasingly common to see agreements between Indigenous peoples and resource companies being achieved generally as Indigenous Land Use Agreements or agreements pursuant to the ‘right to negotiation’ process under the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth). Despite progress in this area, resource development on Indigenous lands is not without its challenges for both the resource proponents and the Indigenous parties. History demonstrates that resource development on Indigenous lands has produced struggles between the traditional owners of the land and the resource proponents. In Australia their relationship is generally defined by issues of access to land and assuring continued access to the land for the life of the project. In this context, divisions in Indigenous communities often emerge. The proposed resource project can have the effect of polarising members of an Indigenous community. It may be regarded by some traditional land owners as an advantageous opportunity for the community and by others as a hazard to country and culture. The process of agreement making has proved not only a test for the Indigenous community but also for the resource proponent. In this paper we undertake a contemporary case study of a proposed Australian resource related-development project on Indigenous lands. This project involved a multi-billion gas hub precinct proposed at James Price Point in the Kimberley region in Western Australia. The James Price Point proposal produced a litany of challenges for all parties. The traditional owners faced fundamental social and human rights issues, including a minority opposition to the project, the project's potential cultural heritage impact, the threat of compulsory acquisition of their native title interest by a State government due to an initial failure to settle an agreement, a fracture of their unsettled land claim and a minority rejection of the agreement ultimately reached. Additionally, the ‘green’ lobby also rejected the proposed gas hub on environmental grounds bringing the green lobby into direct conflict with both the traditional owners in favour of the project and the resource proponent. Ultimately, Woodside announced its decision not to proceed with the proposed gas precinct at James Price Point, in April 2013. In this paper we analyse the complexity of the James Price Point gas hub negotiations with the traditional owners which resulted in an Agreement that promised to deliver substantial benefits for the Indigenous communities. We question why such a favourable and beneficial agreement for the Indigenous community also produced the plethora of challenges and concerns and we consider how future negotiation processes could be better structured to avoid the difficulties that have confronted Indigenous land owners and resource proponents alike.
|Title of host publication||23rd World Mining Congress 2013 Proceedings|
|Publisher||Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum|
|Number of pages||10|
|Publication status||Published - 2013|
|Event||23rd World Mining Congress 2013 - Montreal, Canada|
Duration: 11 Aug 2013 → 15 Aug 2013
|Conference||23rd World Mining Congress 2013|
|Abbreviated title||WMC 2013|
|Period||11/08/13 → 15/08/13|
- Indigenous informed fonsent
- Mining/resource agreements
Stevenson, M. A., & Hunter, T. (2013). Resource developments on Indigenous lands in Australia: The James Price Point Gas Precinct. In 23rd World Mining Congress 2013 Proceedings (pp. 1-10). Canadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum.