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Aboriginal group to be compensated for historic mining damages

MELBOURNE: Western Australia state has agreed to compensate an Aboriginal group for historic acts including issuing mining leases on their traditional lands, setting a precedent that is set to allow Indigenous groups a greater say in future developments.

The state has been strengthening its laws to protect Indigenous cultural heritage since iron ore mining operations by Rio Tinto three years ago destroyed historic rock shelters that showed human habitation dating back 46,000 years.

The Western Australian government said it had reached a “historic settlement” with the Tjiwarl people of the state’s northern Goldfield’s region for three native title compensation claims and had finalised an agreement for land use in future.

The state will pay the Tjiwarl Aboriginal Corporation A$25.5 million (K58.8 million) for acts such as approving roads and issuing leases that damaged or destroyed the group’s legal rights over their traditional lands.

The new agreement sets out a greater say for the Tjiwarl on future developments by miners and others on issues including water management and mining or petroleum leases, and removes the need for future compensation claims. It also returns some land parcels to Tjiwarl and expands the group’s conservation area.

Bellevue Gold and lithium developer Liontown Resources Ltd, which operate on Tjiwarl lands were involved in the compensation litigation.

BHP Group, which declined to comment, struck a land use agreement in 2018 for its nickel operations and was not part of the settlement

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