Article from: The Australian
Aborigines win 13-year title fight
Natasha Bita | July 30, 2009
ABORIGINES have won a 13-year battle in the Federal Court for native title rights over a massive swathe of Cape York Peninsula that includes Rio Tinto’s giant bauxite mine in Weipa.
The court ruled yesterday that the Wik and Wik Way people have traditional rights — to camp, hunt, gather, fish, protect sacred sites, conduct traditional ceremonies and “erect shelters and other structures” — over 1150sqkm of their traditional land and waters on the west coast of Cape York Peninsula.
But the fine print reveals tight controls on what the Wik and Wik Way peoples may do on the Rio mining leases. Under the deal, they have no rights to minerals or oil deposits. Nor will they be allowed to use guns or light campfires, “other than for safety or in an emergency”.
And Rio will have the right to exclude them from areas it requires to carry out its activities, or “for operational, safety or security reasons or as required by law”. “The native title rights and interests will continue to exist in their entirety but will have no effect in relation to the exercise of rights under the Comalco (now renamed Rio Tinto) or the performance of the Comalco activities,” the court order states.