Work has begun on the construction of a uranium mine at Jabiluka in the Northern Territory, Australia. Energy Resources of Australia, the company developing the site, describes the mine proposal as “based on the world’s best technology and designed to ensure there will be no detrimental impact on the neighbouring Kakadu National Park or on local Aboriginal cultural sites”.
The Jabiluka mine is causing controversy because it is located within a World Heritage Site and because local Aboriginal people argue the land belongs to them. Yvonne Margarula, an elder of the local Mirrar people, was arrested after climbing a security fence on 19 May; she claims it is her right to walk on her traditional land. A court case is currently adjourned. Under an agreement signed by Margarula’s late father, ERA has a lease for the purposes of digging a uranium mine.
According to ERA, the Jabiluka mine would add $6.2 billion to Australia’s GDP, of which the Northern Territory Aboriginal people would receive $210 million.
The World Heritage Bureau is to send a team to Jabiluka in October to investigate whether the mine would adversely affect the Kakadu National Park.