The Yindjibarndi are entitled to compensation for mining operations on their land but how payments are calculated and delivered is yet to be seen.
The Federal Court has been in the Western Australian town of Roebourne to rule on a protracted action against the Western Australian Government and Fortescue Mining Group (FMG) over the company’s Solomon Iron ore hub in the Pilbara.
The mine is expected to continue operating until at least 2033, but the Yindijibarndi argue the project has already caused significant cultural and economical damage.
The mine has impacted close to 250 significant sites, including the destruction of a rock shelter and sites that showed evidence of human occupancy dating back 40,000 years.
The Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation is looking for $500 million per year in compensation.
The government is arguing for the claim, which is filed under the Native Title Act, to be dismissed and for a sperate claim to be lodged under the Mining Act.
On Wednesday, FMG presented a similar case.
“The claim is for compensation. It is not, and should not be treated as a renewal or rehash of the claim for the determination of native title rights and interests,” Fortescue said in written submissions added to the court file.
The evidence (the Yindjibarndi) proposes to adduce seems to extend beyond demonstrating the loss or other effect caused by the grant of the mining tenements.”
The Yindjibarndi received Native Title over the region in 2017, and despite the mining operation running from 2013 a deal has not been reached with both parties.
The case will continue on Monday next week when the federal court visits the mine site.
Image Credit Will Russell/AAP