Northern Minerals earns social license to operate

Jaru Traditional Owners stand to benefit following a major announcement by rare earth miner Northern Minerals.

Almost three years after KRED Enterprises and Jaru Traditional Owners negotiated a native title agreement with Northern Minerals, the company’s board has finally approved a $56m dollar pilot project at the Browns Range site, which is approximately 160km south east of Halls Creek.

Wayne Bergmann, the CEO of KRED Enterprises, says Northern Minerals are one of the few mining companies in the Kimberley that has earned a social license to operate.

“Northern Minerals are setting the standard for local participation—and not just among Indigenous people. I’m hopeful that the flow-on effects of this project will benefit all people and businesses in the area. It’s a game changer,” Mr Bergmann says.

The Jaru native title group finalised the Browns Range Project Co-existence Agreement at a meeting at Ringer Soak in June 2014. The Agreement makes provisions for a comprehensive benefits package.

“The benefits package includes financial benefits, share options and support to sustain Jaru heritage, law and culture. Northern Minerals will also carry out a full social and cultural impact assessment in conjunction with KRED and Jaru, and will prioritise employment and contracting opportunities for Jaru people that will increase over the life of the mine,” Mr Bergmann says.

“It’s important that Aboriginal people are seen as part of economic development, not a hindrance to development. In this instance, Northern Minerals has demonstrated good will and the outcomes have been positive,” Mr Bergmann says.