GAC Media Statement
15 Oct 2015
The Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation, on behalf of the Mirarr Traditional Owners of the Ranger Uranium Mine at Kakadu National Park, have this week advised Energy Resources of Australia that the Mirarr cannot consider any possible extension to the Authority to mine on the Ranger Project Area in the absence of support from ERA’s major shareholder, Rio Tinto.
Today’s announcement follows ERA’s statement on 11 June this year that the Ranger 3 Deeps project would not proceed to a final feasibility study and Rio Tinto’s statement on the same day that it does not support any development of the Ranger 3 Deeps project. Rio Tinto has offered a conditional credit facility for ERA to fund its rehabilitation requirements at Ranger. Shortly after these announcements all of ERA’s independent directors resigned from the company’s board, stating differing views with Rio Tinto on the future of the R3D project. Since June 2015, the traditional owners have become increasingly concerned that the difference of views between ERA and Rio Tinto remained unresolved.
The GAC is in full agreement with the direction that Rio Tinto wants ERA to take. The Mirarr now require certainty that ERA has access to the funds necessary to discharge its rehabilitation obligations at Ranger. That rehabilitation must ensure that the Ranger Project Area is rehabilitated such that it can be incorporated into the World Heritage listed Kakadu National Park.
Rio Tinto’s positive relationship with the Mirarr traditional owners began with the resolution of the Jabiluka dispute and the 2005 Jabiluka Long-Term Care and Maintenance Agreement. This is the cornerstone for the support that the traditional owners have shown to the current operations at Ranger and also the reason the GAC felt comfortable to consider the possibility of underground mining at Ranger.
The GAC had been in regular talks with ERA since January 2015 regarding the possible extension of mining on the Ranger Project Area, on the understanding that the major shareholder, Rio Tinto, supported the R3 Deeps project.
The GAC now calls on ERA to secure Rio Tinto funding for the full cost of rehabilitation to ensure that there is no long term issue left to the cost of the Australian taxpayer and the community. This is required for not only the Ranger Project Area but also to manage the eventual closure of the Jabiluka Mineral Lease area (also held by ERA) at the end of ERA’s interest there.