10 May 2023

East Weipa nearly ready to be returned to Traditional Owners

| Matt Nicholls
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RIO Tinto Weipa has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with four Traditional Owner groups which details an agreed consultation process around closure planning for the East Weipa bauxite mine.

The MoU was jointly developed over a period of seven months between Traditional Owners and Rio Tinto and lays a path regarding the eventual return of their lands after mining at East Weipa stops.

It includes co-designed consultation processes such as on-country camps, community-wide meetings and workshops around post-mining cultural heritage protection, rehabilitation, access to lands and economic development.

Representatives from the Alngith, Anathangayth, Peppan and Wathayn Traditional Owner groups, joined Rio Tinto Australia chief executive Kellie Parker for the MoU signing event in Weipa last week.

Also in attendance were Western Cape Communities Coordinating Committee deputy chair Anna Motton and members of Rio Tinto’s Australian Advisory Group.

Western Cape Communities Trust chair Marie Pitt, expressed her desire that all parties should work together to create a vibrant self-sustaining future for all the residents of the Western Cape region.

“I hope that this Memorandum of Understanding will take us closer to this goal. Let’s not forget that this is our country and our future,” she said.

Ms Parker added: “This MoU extends the values of mutual respect and partnership that built the Western Cape Communities Co-Existence Agreement and which continues to give us the privilege to operate on the Western Cape.

“We are incredibly grateful for the opportunity to work with the Alngith, Anathangayth, Peppan and Wathayn Traditional Owners on considering a post-mining future for their lands.”

“This agreement provides certainty for Traditional Owners that they will be consulted on closure and be partners in determining what happens on their lands.”

The East Weipa mine, which started operations in 1963, is the oldest of three bauxite mines operated by Rio Tinto in Cape York and is expected to cease operation around 2024.

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