Page last updated at 07:32 GMT, Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Aborigines win battle over mine

By Nick Bryant
BBC News, Sydney


Aborigines in Australia have won a court fight against the Anglo-Swiss mining giant Xstrata.

Xstrata had planned to divert a river to allow for the expansion of a zinc mine in the Northern Territory.

A Federal Court decided that the government did not follow the proper process in allowing the mine's expansion to go ahead in 2006.

Some Aboriginal leaders cried with happiness when the ruling was handed down by the Federal Court in Sydney.

They had fought a long battle to overturn the government's decision to allow the diversion of the McArthur River in order to expand the mine.

Open cast

The company had wanted to divert the river to extend the life of the mine by turning it from an underground to an open cast operation.

Along with environmentalists, indigenous groups had argued that there was a risk during the rainy season that the McArthur River would be contaminated by seepage from mining.

They also argued that the government had not followed the proper process in granting approval for the scheme and that there was a lack of consultation. The federal court ruled in their favour, citing a lack of due process.

Over 5km (3 miles) of the river has already been diverted, and the traditional owners are now demanding that it be returned to its original course.

"We want the river put back," said one Aboriginal leader.

Xstrata has expressed disappointment at the ruling, and had indicated beforehand that it might be forced to close the mine.

An industry group, the Northern Territory Resources Council, described the ruling as a huge blow for Australia's mining industry.

Print Sponsor

Xstrata bids for Australian firm
05 Dec 07 |  Business
Tiny animals stop Australian mine
29 Mar 07 |  Asia-Pacific
Aborigines threaten to shut Uluru
21 Jun 08 |  Asia-Pacific

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Sign in

BBC navigation

Copyright © 2019 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific