By ERWIN CHLANDA
An agreement between miners and cattle station lessees, two years in the making, has been welcomed by both parties although pastoralists cannot veto mining, nor are they entitled to royalties.
Aborigines owning land under the Land Rights Act – about half the Territory’s land mass – have both these privileges.
The new deal provides for mandatory access agreements, and the regulation of issues “including weed management, fire, water, biosecurity, chemical use, erosion control and livestock and human health and wellbeing,” says NT Cattlemen’s Association President Tom Stockwell.
The association’s CEO, Tracey Hayes (pictured), says if an agreement cannot be reached, a mediation process kicks in.
In a 28-day process the matter comes before a panel of six, including the four chief executives of the NT departments of Primary Industries; Land Resource Management; Lands, Planning and Environment; and Mines and Energy.
Both the miners and pastoralists also have one representative each on the arbitration panel and they have a role in the making of decision.
The panel will make a decision taking into account whether the parties have acted in good faith, whether best practice is proposed, and other matters.
If mediation fails between parties, the arbitration panel can set down an access plan. And if after that parties are still in dispute, legal options will be available.
The CEO of the Association of Mining and Exploration Companies (AMEC), Simon Bennison (pictured), says: “Whilst the new land access arrangements are more prescriptive than what is currently in place in the Northern Territory, they encourage a good working relationship and timely resolutions for all parties involved.
“AMEC is pleased to have been part of the consultation process. The implementation and application of the new access arrangements will be the test for explorers.
“AMEC will liaise with members to ensure there are no unnecessary delays as a result of the new procedures.”
By ERWIN CHLANDA