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Indigenous activist wants $700M in compensation from metal mine owner

Galarrwuy Yunupingu and trainees
Galarrwuy Yunupingu and trainees

A Northern Territory man is suing a multinational mining company because he and his Indigenous clan was allegedly forced off their land.

Gumatj clan leader Galarrwuy Yunupingu (pictured left) wants Rio Tinto to pay $700 million in compensation because the company ignored his protests and pushed ahead with building the Gove Bauxite Mine, 650km east of Darwin.

Yunupingu will argue at the Federal Circuit Court of Australia he and the native Yolngu people opposed the mine and Rio forced the development onto them.

“The time has come for us to settle with the Commonwealth,” Yunupingu said according to the Australian Associated Press (AAP). “We were an independent, autonomous people when the crown, and then the Commonwealth came and acquired our rights.”

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Payment was not enough

The proponent claimed it had already offered payments and a 2011 benefits package to traditional owners in the area. However, the activist wants much more money due to the traumatic impact of mining on Aboriginal people in the region.

AAP speculates other Aboriginal clans in the area might join the legal action against Rio.

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