There’s a diversity of views among indigenous communities in Cape York Peninsula on the Australian Government’s recent push for World Heritage listing, and on the prospect of new or expanded mining in the region.
The Federal Government has run a long consultation process to muster indigenous support for a World Heritage listing – but the prospect of an election in the next few months has probably stalled the process, at least for now.
At the same time, both the Federal and Queensland Governments have given the nod to new or expanded mining activity in the region. The long-established bauxite mining around Weipa, on the western Cape, will expand, and several companies are bidding for the right to extract bauxite around the indigenous community of Aurukun, south of Weipa.
And the Queensland Government has called for tenders to prospect for petroleum and gas in what it calls “greenfield areas” – including on native title land at Pascoe River http://statements.qld.gov.au/Statement/2013/5/28/new-land-release-a-boost-to-exploration-opportunities
And earlier this year, a company linked to Gina Rinehart applied for exploration permits near Laura, in country rich with ancient indigenous rock art. The company withdrew its application a few days later, saying it had not known about the rock art.
At Aurukun, Mayor Derek Walpo welcomes mining as the key to a prosperous future for his community – elsewhere on the Cape, communities are saying no to mining.
LISTEN Click on the red arrow to hear indigenous leaders talk about mining and world heritage on Cape York Peninsula
We heard Derek Walpo – the mayor of Aurukun Shire Council: David Claudie – chairman Chuulangun Aboriginal Corporation, and Thomas George, a traditional owner from Laura