Traditional owners oppose new uranium mine

Issue 

Traditional owners oppose new uranium mine

By Tyrion Perkins

SYDNEY — Jacqui Katona, executive officer of the Gundjhemi Aboriginal Corporation, addressed a meeting of about 200 people in Glebe on April 29 about opposition by Mirrar traditional landowners to the new uranium mine proposed for Jabiluka in Kakadu National Park.

The meeting was part of a tour of the Mirrar owners to Alice Springs, Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne seeking support for their fight to stop the mine.

Katona explained that the Mirrar people have lived with the consequences of the Ranger uranium mine for the last 20 years. Tailings dams built to contain waste retain 80% of the uranium's radioactivity. Contaminated water is released into wetlands which are world heritage areas. The mine has affected their health.

Ranger supposedly had the agreement of the Mirrar, but Katona said, "Our people have always been opposed to uranium mining. In our culture we have the responsibility to take care of the land for future generations." Katona believes the Ranger agreement was signed under duress.

The Mirrar were promised that the mine would help provide housing, education, jobs, health services and strategic investments. It hasn't.

The government is looking at opening up to 26 new uranium mines, many of which will be on Aboriginal lands. Jabiluka is likely to be the first approved, possibly within the next month.

Once again the Mirrar are being told they cannot oppose it. They have put in a land claim, which was opposed by the mining company. And the government is now trying to extinguish native title.

Said Katona: "The complicity of government with industry has to be exposed. The uranium is mined for short-term private profit. Once the land is mined, you can't replace the land or the culture."

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