Ankamuthi People and Metro Mining

Amalgamating agreements

In August 2017 the Queensland Government granted three mining leases to Metro Mining Ltd for its $35.8 million Bauxite Hills Mine project, located north of Weipa within north Queensland’s world-class bauxite region.

‘[Granting the leases to Metro Mining] will allow it to consolidate and unlock the potential of the significant bauxite reserve that exists on the Western Cape York Peninsula, and generate hundreds of jobs for the region,’ says Dr Anthony Lynham, Queensland Minister for State Development and Minister for Natural Resources and Mines.

Essential to securing the mining leases was the fact that Metro Mining negotiated with traditional owners to amalgamate two separate native title and land access agreements into a single ancillary agreement and land access agreement (ancillary agreement).

The Bauxite Hills and Skardon River native title and land access agreements were separately negotiated with their respective traditional owners. In early 2017, Metro Mining acquired Gulf Alumina and merged its Bauxite Hills project with Gulf Alumina’s Skardon River project to create the Bauxite Hills Mine project.

The ancillary agreement was reached jointly by the traditional owners – the Ankamuthi people, and the Old Mapoon Aboriginal Corporation (OMAC) – the trustee landowner.

'The ancillary agreement simplifies implementation of the undertakings made by all parties and will streamline administration and ongoing monitoring,’ says Simon Finnis, Managing Director, Metro Mining.

‘The Ankamuthi people and OMAC are very, very supportive. When Metro Mining completed the takeover of Gulf Alumina we were able to sign an amalgamated agreement in about a month.

‘That really shows they are keen for economic development. They are very keen to get on with it. They want to see employment and training, they want to see the business opportunities – and we are hoping we can provide. Metro Mining is very comfortable with the group of people we are dealing with.’

Traditional owners and Metro Mining representatives

The ancillary agreement includes a land clearance cultural heritage management plan, the provision of employment and training opportunities for traditional owners, business development and contracting opportunities for Ankamuthi businesses, and payment of mining benefits to both the Ankamuthi people and OMAC for the life of the projects.

Metro Mining has commenced training and employment opportunities for the traditional owners. Initial traditional owner employment is running well above 30 per cent of the construction workforce – more than the target in the ancillary agreement.

‘I am particularly pleased with the high level of Ankamuthi engagement on site already,’ says Finnis. ‘As construction works continue and production ultimately commences, we will strive to build on this positive start.’

Community engagement meetings and skills-audit workshops targeted for employment opportunities were held in July and September 2017 across local communities including Injinoo, New Mapoon, Hopevale, Mapoon and Cairns.

Land clearance cultural heritage management plan

Under the cultural heritage management plan, Metro Mining has undertaken cultural heritage surveys and land clearance across an initial 900 hectares of the mining leases.

During land clearance, the preservation of Ankamuthi cultural heritage has focused predominantly on the select felling, collection and storage of culturally modified trees (scar trees).

A liaison committee comprising representatives of all parties has met three times and a fourth meeting is planned for the end of 2017.

Bauxite Hills Mine shareholders

During 2017, Metro Mining secured $40 million in debt financing and raised $38 million via a share placement to Australia and international investors to fund its mining projects. Metro Mining’s largest shareholders include China’s Dadi Engineering Development Group, China Xinfa Group Corporation Ltd and UK private equity group Greenstone Resources.

Construction of the Bauxite Hills Mine is underway and mining operations are due to commence in the second quarter of 2018. This will trigger financial payments to help fund long-term programs agreed with the Ankamuthi people and their organisations.

‘I am particularly pleased with the high level of Ankamuthi engagement on site already.’

Simon Finnis, Managing Director, Metro Mining

Image 1: Traditional owners and Metro Mining representatives. Source: Metro Mining.