Thursday, October 22, 2009

Cameco violates Australian Aboriginal lands


Press statement

Part owners of the Kintyre Uranium Deposit, Cameco Australia Pty Ltd, are being asked to explain why they recently graded an old track that runs through two different registered Aboriginal Sites without permission from the Department of Indigenous Affairs (DIA).

The Native Title holders of the land for the Martu people Western Desert Lands Aboriginal Corporation (WDLAC)* are outraged that Cameco, a Canadian owned company, could commit an offence that was not only illegal but also showed such a lack of respect for Martu heritage.

Nyaparu Landy, Chairperson of WDLAC, said it was disappointing to see that a company who claims to respect Martu people and culture and the legislation in place to protect their rights could not even follow legal process so early on in the high profile project.

“We have been given numerous assurances that they will not disturb any sites and already they have disturbed two sites located some distance apart without consent,” he said.

“If Cameco can’t even follow 40 year-old legislation now, how can we trust them with mining uranium?”

Under the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972 (“The Act”) it is an offence to damage or alter an Aboriginal site without permission from the Minister for Indigenous Affairs. Cameco did not have any consent from the Minister nor did they advise WDLAC that they would grade the track through the registered sites.

“There is simply no excuse – not only has WDLAC warned them about the existence of the sites, they are also listed on the DIA’s Register of Aboriginal sites for all to see,” Mr Landy said.

“It seems Cameco can’t even be bothered to do their homework. This incident doesn’t leave us with much confidence on their promises to respect our culture throughout the rest of the project.

“But we will continue to fiercely protect our culture and insist that Cameco and other miners with leases on our land respect it by following their requirements by law.”

The DIA have begun an investigation to determine whether Cameco should be prosecuted under the Act.

All enquiries should be directed to Christina Araujo, In House Counsel on 9486 9797.

*The Western Desert Lands Aboriginal Corporation (Jamakurnu-Yapalinkunu) RNTBC holds the exclusive native title rights and interests of the Martu People to approximately 136,000square kilometres of land in the Western Desert region of Western Australia.

Anne-Marie Hagan Future Acts Project Officer
Western Desert Lands Aboriginal Corporation (Jamukurnu-Yapalinkunu) RNTBC (ICN 4207)
11 Gordon Street West Perth WA 6005
PO Box 331 West Perth WA 6872
Telephone (08) 9486 9797 Fax (08) 9486 9798

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Censored News is published by censored journalist Brenda Norrell. A journalist for 27 years, Brenda lived on the Navajo Nation for 18 years, writing for Navajo Times, AP, USA Today, Lakota Times and other American Indian publications. After being censored and then terminated by Indian Country Today in 2006, she began the Censored Blog to document the most censored issues. She currently serves as human rights editor for the U.N. OBSERVER & International Report at the Hague and contributor to Sri Lanka Guardian, Narco News and CounterPunch. She was cohost of the 5-month Longest Walk Talk Radio across America, with Earthcycles Producer Govinda Dalton in 2008:
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