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US$287M metal mine producer appeals anti mining decision in highest court

Fortescue Metals Group
Fortescue Metals Group

An iron ore company is not letting its US$287 million (A$421M) mine expansion go down without a fight at the High Court of Australia.

Fortescue Metals Group is disputing the Federal Court’s October 18 decision to recognise the Yindjibarndi people have native title over more than 2700 sq km of land that includes the Solomon Iron Ore Mine in Mount Sheila, 377km southwest of Port Hedland in Western Australia’s Pilbara.

No risk of closure

The exclusive rights could mean the proponent must abandon the mine if the traditional land owners asked them to move off their property. However, Fortescue is playing down any concerns that its iron ore operations are in any serious danger of closure.

“Fortescue reconfirms its earlier advice that the decision of the full Federal Court has no impact on its current or future operations or mining tenure at the Solomon Hub, and the company does not anticipate any material financial impact to the business as a result of the decision of the full Federal Court,” company secretary Cameron Wilson said in a statement to the share market.

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Talks continue

Fortescue vowed to continue working “proactively” with native title groups until there is a solution.

“We remain open to negotiating a land access agreement with all of the Yindjibarndi people on similar terms to the agreements Fortescue has in place with the other native title groups in the region,” company chief executive Elizabeth Gaines said. “We accept, and have always accepted, the Yindjibarndi people’s non-exclusive native title rights and interests over the relevant area.”

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