Australian firm Toro Energy has signed an agreement with traditional owner group Tarlka Matuwa Piarku Aboriginal for development of its Wiluna uranium project.
The agreement is aimed at maintaining and further developing a mutually beneficial long-term relationship between the Wiluna people and Toro.
It will also ensure the impacts of the mining company’s activities on Wiluna Native Title Holders’ fights and interests.
Toro Energy managing director Dr Vanessa Guthrie said that at the start of the company’s engagement with the Wiluna people, it was important for the community to understand how uranium mining may affect their land, culture and health.
Guthrie added: "Throughout this process, Toro has provided the Wiluna People with the means to secure their own independent advice about the issues of greatest importance to them.
"As a result, they have reached a position where they can give full and informed consent to Toro’s development proposals on their land."
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Under the agreement, Toro is required to inform and consult with the Wiluna people about activities relating to environmental impacts of mining in the area.
Furthermore, both Toro and the Wiluna people agreed to extend their cooperation into other areas of environmental work such as groundwater monitoring, mine closure and rehabilitation.
This approach provides ongoing access to information about project impacts to the Wiluna people also offers the opportunity for them to establish business activities that could service the Wiluna project, as well as other mines in the region.
In July 2013, the Federal Court determined the native claim of Wiluna people and awarded them almost 48,000km² of land and waters in the north-west goldfields of Western Australia. Their land includes the Millipede, Centipede and Lake Way uranium deposits, which are proposed to be mined by Toro.
The Wiluna project also takes in the Lake Maitland deposit, where there is no native title claim at present.
Toro’s current planning involves mining at Lake Maitland that is set to commence around six years after mining at Millipede and Centipede.
After the Lake Maitland deposit, the project would be completed with mining at Lake Way and all ore mined would be processed at a plant near the Millipede-Centipede deposits.