Traditional Owners Negotiate a Successful Agreement

KRED Enterprises and the Jaru native title claim group have successfully negotiated an agreement with Northern Minerals, locking in substantial economic benefits for the Jaru people of the East Kimberley, should the Northern Minerals project to mine rare earth progress.

The Browns Range Project Co-existence Agreement was put before the Jaru native title claim group at a two-day meeting (10 and 11 June 2014) attended by close to 200 people at Ringer Soak.

Jaru people consent to grant a mining lease to the company in exchange for a comprehensive benefits package and ongoing participation in the operation of the mine. The package includes financial benefits, share options and support to Ringer Soak and Jaru to sustain Jaru heritage, law and culture.

Northern Minerals have also committed to implement best environmental practice at all levels of operations, to carry out a full social and cultural impact assessment in conjunction with KRED and Jaru and to prioritise employment and contracting opportunities for Jaru people that will increase over the life of the mine.

KRED’s CEO Wayne Bergmann says it’s a strong agreement and a major achievement for the Jaru people.

“Here in the Kimberley, we’re setting national benchmarks with our agreements between Traditional Owners and mining companies. We’re confident this particular agreement protects the Jaru people’s cultural heritage and environment as best it can within Australian law. If the project is progressed as planned then it has the potential to provide many positive economic and social benefits to the Jaru people and the wider community,” Mr Bergmann says.

Jaru named applicant and signatory to the agreement Bonnie Edwards, says, “I’m confident we’ve got the best agreement we could have. KRED has worked hard to represent the Jaru people and I’m hoping as the benefits flow in, this will mean a higher standard of living and more opportunities for Jaru people.”

Consistent with the cultural values and responsibilities of KRED’s membership to look after each other, the agreement also has a provision for a portion of the benefits to be contributed to KRED’s regional fund, which is used to support and enhance all its members across the Kimberley, including Jaru.

Whilst the signing of the Browns Range Project Co-existence Agreement signals an important step in the strengthening of the relationship between Jaru and Northern Minerals, the full benefits for Jaru people are dependent on Northern Minerals securing investors for the project and confirming the mine will proceed. If they’re successful in doing this over the next six months, construction of the mine will begin in 2015.