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Western Mining Corporation (WMC) Olympic Dam Agreements

Date: 1 March 1999
Sub Category:Future Act Agreement (Native Title Act)
State/Country:South Australia, Australia
Subject Matter:Cultural Heritage | Economic Development | Environmental Heritage | Mining and Minerals | Native Title | Recognition of Traditional Rights and Interests | Compensation | Employment and Training | Native Title
Summary Information:
The Olympic Dam Agreements include the Olympic Dam Aboriginal Management Agreement and the Olympic Dam Community Development Agreement. These were agreed to in March 1999, between Western Mining Corporation (WMC) and four Indigenous groups including: the Kokotha Peoples' Committee; Barngarla Aboriginal Consultative Council: Wukuna Peoples' Committee; and the Kuyani Association. While the Arabunna people also have interest to land in the area, they refused to be party to the negotiations.
The Port Augusta Native Title Working Group was also involved in the agreements.
Detailed Information:
Negotiations between Indigenous groups and WMC first began as a result of plans to extend the Olympic Dam Mine. The extensions included the construction of a power-line from Port Augusta to the mine-site and the expansion of the tailings system at the mine. In 1996, an easement was offered by the South Australian government for the power-line under the pre-existing indenture agreement. However, after the High Court's decision in Wik in December of that year, the Government advised the company to negotiate an agreement with native title parties as a result of concerns that the easement might entail a past act under the terms of the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth).

Initial negotiations proved difficult as a history of poor relations preceded the meetings. Furthermore, WMC sought to confine discussions to heritage protection matters under State Legislation, while the native title parties considered native title issues central to the agreement.

Each native title group selected four men and four women to carry out the negotiations without the involvement of a Native Title Representative Body. WMC funded each of the Indigenous groups to employ its own advisers on heritage matters.

Initial discussions focussed on heritage approvals so that construction of the power line could commence, and dealt with the issues relating to compensation payments. While the claimants sought compensation in the form of some direct cash payments, the company refused these requests only allocating resources to community trusts for community purposes.

The agreements cover a range of other matters including:
- Support for heritage protection and management, including administration and office costs. Under the agreements, each group has an administrative structure and a community office;
- Provision of limited community infrastructure and equipment;
- Access to grants for community purposes;
- Provision of scholarships and training;
- Assistance with business development and employment programs;
- Contracting and sub-contracting arrangements, and
- Assistance with documentation of heritage and culture.

The agreements are implemented and managed through the Community Relations Unit at Olympic Dam, and six-monthly liaison meetings between the Indigenous groups and the company are funded by WMC.
The parties to the agreements believe that the process has developed trust and encouraged an understanding of the procedures involved in Aboriginal and mining company relations. However, WMC has expressed concerns that the community development possibilities have not been used to their full potential.

Related Entries

  • Western Mining Corporation Resources Limited - Signatory
  • Kokotha Peoples' Committee - Signatory
  • Barngarla Aboriginal Consultative Council - Signatory
  • Wukuna Peoples' Committee - Signatory
  • Kuyani Association - Signatory
  • Port Augusta Native Title Working Group
  • People
  • Arabana People

  • References

    Indigenous Support Services and ACIL Consulting (2001) 'Agreements between Mining Companies and Indigenous Communities: A Report to the Australian Minerals and Energy Environment Foundation'
    Saleem Ali (2000) WMC: Olympic Dam Mine


    Future Act Agreement (Native Title Act 1993 (Cth)) (Australia)

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