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24 Jul 2017

Angus Sargent, ABC News (Australia)

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

"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...