Traditional Owners have been given ownership of the town Jabiru on the edge of Kakadu National Park, ending a long-running native title dispute.
Jabiru was built in 1982 to support the nearby Ranger uranium mine, where operations ended earlier this year.
The handover has been hailed as a major step in reviving the fading mining town into a thriving tourism hub and gateway to Kakadu.
Senior Mirarr traditional owner Yvonne Margarula said the land was left to by their ancestors, and now it has been returned.
“This is a happy day for us. We have very good feelings about today”, she said.
Indigenous Australians Minister Ken Wyatt acknowledged the turbulent history of the mine, which proceeded without the consent of the Mirarr people.
He described the handover as “a monumental moment in the history of land rights in this country”.
“The Mirarr people have a comprehensive master plan to transform the local economy away from mining into a world-class tourism destination, with service industries supporting economic growth in the region,” he said.
Mine operator Energy Resources of Australia is required to rehabilitate the mine site over the next five years so it can be incorporated back into the World Heritage-listed Kakadu National park.
It was at one stage also required to remove the town’s housing and essential services infrastructure, but community support grew for Jabiru to live on after the mine was mothballed.