Hon. Robert McClelland MP, Federal Attorney-General
Hon. Martin Ferguson MP, Minister for Resources and Energy
The Australian Government today welcomed the announcement of significant native title agreements made between Rio Tinto Iron Ore and traditional owner groups in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.
Attorney-General Robert McClelland praised the efforts of the Yamatji Marlpa Aboriginal Corporation, who represented the Nyiyaparli, Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura, Kuruma and Marthudunera and Ngarlawangga traditional owners in negotiations. He also acknowledged the separate agreement between Rio Tinto and the Ngarluma traditional owners.
"The agreements, which provide for land access and cooperation across more than 71,000 square kilometres relation to Rio Tinto's iron ore business, are amongst the largest and most comprehensive native title agreements ever made," he said.
"These agreements, which were negotiated over several years, are an excellent example of native title groups and industry working together to improve outcomes for traditional owners.
"All parties should be recognised for their commitment to best practice in native title negotiating and agreement-making."
Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs Jenny Macklin said the agreements offer broader benefits for traditional owners and their communities, including commitments by Rio Tinto to deliver training, employment and business development opportunities.
"After extensive negotiations, Rio Tinto and the native title groups have reached a comprehensive agreement that ensures payments to native title groups will be invested appropriately for the good of the community," she said.
"These agreements are unique in that they provide an option for traditional owners to enter an additional Regional Agreement that could potentially benefit all Indigenous people in the Pilbara, through the work of a Regional Aboriginal Corporation.
"In particular, the Government recognises the inclusion of a 'Future Fund' as a way to provide intergenerational benefits for traditional owners.
"Ensuring native title rights and benefits are used to create sustainable, long-term benefits for Indigenous communities is an important priority for the Australian Government."
Minister for Resources and Energy Martin Ferguson said the land use agreements secure the future operations of Rio Tinto in the Pilbara region.
"The agreements provide Rio Tinto with the certainty to undertake development while ensuring future generations of traditional owners will continue to benefit from these agreements" Mr Ferguson said.
"I commend Rio Tinto and the native title groups for their commitment to reaching these agreements."
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