Australia: Traditional owners' native title claim upheld in landmark decision against mining company Fortescue Metals Group

Fortescue Metals Group (FMG) loses appeal from a Federal Court's judgment recognising the Yindjibarndi people's exclusive native title over an area of land that includes the company's Solomon Hub mine in Western Australia's Pilbara region. The Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation said that the group will fight for compensation from FMG.

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18 October 2019

Andrew Forrest's Fortescue Metals Group loses appeal against Pilbara native title claim

Author: Andrea Mayes & Rebecca Parish, ABC News

18 October 2019

Mining magnate Andrew Forrest faces a compensation fight after losing an appeal against a WA native title ruling over a huge tract of ore-rich Pilbara land.

The land in question includes the multi-billion dollar Solomon Hub iron ore mine belonging to Mr Forrest's Fortescue Metals Group (FMG).

Two years ago the Federal Court granted native title to 2,700 square kilometres of land north of Karijini National Park to the Yinjibarndi people.

FMG appealed the decision to grant exclusive native title to the group, citing concern about the higher standard of engagement with traditional owner groups required.

But the Federal Court rejected the appeal on all grounds — prompting FMG to flag a possible appeal to the High Court.

"We are considering our next steps which may include an appeal to the High Court," FMG chief executive Elizabeth Gaines said in a statement.


...Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation (YAC)...chief executive Michael Woodley described the decision as a "fantastic result" but said the group would still have to fight for compensation from FMG.


But FMG downplayed the possibility of a substantial compensation payout.

"The matter of compensation is an entirely separate matter and our legal advice is consistent with our previous view that there is no material financial impact to Fortescue following today's decision," Ms Gaines said.

"Our mining tenure rights and current operations are also unaffected."

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24 July 2017

Pilbara native title claim surrounding Solomon Hub mine owned by Andrew Forrest's FMG upheld

Author: Angus Sargent, ABC News (Australia)

"Pilbara native title claim surrounding Solomon Hub mine owned by Andrew Forrest's FMG upheld", 20 July 2017

The Federal Court has recognised an exclusive native title claim in Western Australia's Pilbara region, potentially allowing an indigenous group to seek compensation from Andrew Forrest's Fortescue Metals Group...

The decision...grants exclusive native title to the Yindjibarndi people over an area of land that includes Fortescue Metals Group's...Solomon Hub mine. The native title claim has run alongside a dispute over royalty payments generated by the mine. 

The claim for exclusive native title was first lodged by the Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation in 2003 and covers about 2,700 square kilometres of land just north of Karijini National Park.

"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," Justice Steven Rares found.

A native title expert has described it as a "landmark" case that will set a precedent for others: "It certainly is a landmark case with respect to settling compensation in relation to an existing mine, because it will guide us on principles and will be of very great interest in that respect," Professor Bartlett said.

The lawyer, George Irving, representing the indigenous group said they had "got everything they were asking for" but warned that a compensation bid was likely...

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