Mining has existed on Groote Eylandt since the early 1960’s. Over this time the economic returns from mining royalties have been pivotal in shaping the social, infrastructure capacity and community functions we see today. The ALC’s pragmatic and consistent approach has been to take firm steps to ensure that there are positive environmental, social and economic outcomes being sought foremost in all our exploration and mining agreements and partnerships with mining companies or other entities wishing to access Aboriginal lands within the Groote archipelago.
The Sea Country of the Archipelago is currently protected from all forms of seabed mining under the Northern Territory Minerals Title Act. These areas are Reserved from Exploration and Mining activity even if the current moratorium on Seabed Mining is lifted. Petroleum exploration and drilling is not excluded in the archipelago by this legislation.
The Anindilyakwa Land Council has a key responsibility to ensure that in any development that is considered within the archipelago, whether on land or in the sea country, has full consideration given to any impacts whether they be immediate or in the future.
The environmental setting within the Groote Archipelago is considered of high ecological value both nationally and internationally with many species of flora and fauna listed as threatened both on land and in the marine environs. The natural systems of the archipelago are considered very sensitive due to the pristine nature of much of the land areas additionally the Gulf’s marine environment is listed as one of the last remaining marine wilderness areas on the planet. If the balance of these systems is jeopardised through poor planning not only is the unique environment threatened but also the traditional lifestyles of the Anindilyakwa people. As such we all have a responsibility to ensure the appropriate management of these systems.
The main project proponent on Groote Eylandt to date has been GEMCO, which is jointly owned by South32 Pty Ltd (60%) and Anglo Operations (40%). Currently all mining activity occurs on Groote Eylandt however GEMCO also hold Exploration applications on Bickerton and elsewhere on the adjacent mainland.
With current mining activity on Groote and Winchelsea Island planned to conclude around 2032-33, there is increased urgency for closure planning to be undertaken and as part of this considerable community consultation is required.
ALC aims to provide consistent and equitable processes, that promote organisational accountability and transparency, while representing the collective wishes and the opinion of the Anindilyakwa people giving priority to the protection of their interests on land and in the seas of the Anindilyakwa archipelago.