Agreement making built on lasting relationships and sustainable communities
Aboriginal people continue to have an association with the land on which we operate and are important stakeholders in the approval process for any land development proposal.
Our Aboriginal engagement is characterised by:
- Developing Aboriginal native title and community agreements
- Implementing Aboriginal community development programmes
- Managing impacts on Aboriginal cultural heritage
- Increasing Aboriginal employment opportunities
- Building cross-cultural awareness across the business.
Rio Tinto Coal Australia's approach is to negotiate with individual native title claim groups about our developments and where appropriate formalise our agreements through the process of Indigenous Land Use Agreements (ILUA) under the Native Title Act 1993. Our approach to agreement-making is guided by Rio Tinto's policy on communities, which states, in part, that we set out to build enduring relationships with our neighbours that are characterised by mutual respect, active partnership, and long term commitment. As a result we have developed a relational rather than transactional approach to agreement making.
Our current land use agreements are:
- Hail Creek Mine's Agreement with the Wiri Yuwiburra People
- Blair Athol Mine and Clermont Mine Indigenous Land Use Agreement with the Wangan & Jagalingou People
- Kestrel Mine Land Use Agreement with the Western Kangoulu People
- Mount Pleasant Agreement with the Wonnarua People.
Each agreement is unique, is legally binding and has immediate and long term obligations.
The agreements provide for a financial contribution to the Aboriginal community through an Aboriginal Community Development Fund, but are more than a commercial contract.
The intent is to formalise and structure a mutually beneficial and constructive working relationship that supports and enables all parties to achieve their vision for the future. Given that the agreement is more about relationships than money, a core aspect of implementation is the systems that support our delivering the intent of the agreement.
Implementing the agreements is an important part of our business, enabling us to progress statutory processes for the granting of tenure and heritage approvals before mining activities commence. In Queensland each of our agreements are administered through the Agreement Implementation Groups, comprised of traditional owners and Rio Tinto Coal Australia representatives supported by independent facilitators.
Agreement making engagement
In considering native title associated with current development activities and opportunities for growth, Rio Tinto Coal Australia has initiated a number of engagement processes with native title claimants and other interests associated with the Central Bowen Basin and the Upper Hunter Valley. Rio Tinto Coal Australia has developed an agreement making strategy and conducted a review of our existing native title agreements.
In 2011 we settled two Section 29 Native Title Act 1993 Right to Negotiate agreements in Queensland with both the Barada Barna People and the Wiri People Core Country native title claim groups, for exploration drilling activities associated with tenements near our Hail Creek Mine in the Bowen Basin.
In late 2011 Rio Tinto Coal Australia initiated an engagement process to identify people who assert a native title interest in the western portion of the former Kangoulu native title claim area (north of Emerald), with a view to developing an Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA) for Rio Tinto Coal Australia's current and any future developments in this area.