17 February 2009 - Indigenous leaders, uranium industry establish dialogue

In a landmark initiative, uranium industry representatives and some of the nation’s foremost indigenous leaders have established a Dialogue Group to explore areas of common interest.

Indigenous leaders and uranium industry representatives from around Australia have formed the Group to inform and shape the industry’s contribution to indigenous economic development.

Co-convened by Mr Warren Mundine, and the Executive Director of the Australian Uranium Association, Mr Michael Angwin, the founding members of the dialogue group include prominent experts in native title and indigenous economic development matters as well as the uranium industry’s most senior executives. (See list below.)

Reflecting the objective of establishing common ground between the uranium industry and indigenous Australia, Mr Mundine will join the AUA’s Board of Directors.

Mr Angwin said: “This is about indigenous communities and the uranium mining and exploration industry talking about ways the industry can best contribute to indigenous economic development.

“The establishment of this group reflects the common interest we share in our industry’s contribution to improved economic, social and health outcomes for indigenous people,” Mr Angwin said.

“Companies working in the industry have a range of existing initiatives to engage with indigenous communities and to support their development. This Dialogue Group will help ensure that the industry’s contribution is coordinated to maximise its benefit to indigenous communities.”

Mr Mundine said: “Many indigenous people are still living in appalling poverty. Countries overseas want to use Australian uranium to generate clean electricity and as the industry expands to meet the growing demand, we’re keen to make sure there are lasting benefits for traditional owners”.

“There is a common interest in working with the industry on ways we can achieve economic progress for Aborigines, while managing projects in ways that protect the environment. There is a lot of work to do and this relationship with the uranium industry is a good way to do it,” he said.

Mr Mundine said there is a variety of views about uranium among indigenous people.

“Too often in the past indigenous people have had little choice but to make decisions about uranium projects with incomplete or biased information. That has sometimes meant decisions have been based on unwarranted fears about uranium and its uses.

“From an indigenous point of view, there is little sense in excluding opportunities for economic development on the basis of poor information,” he said.

“We want this dialogue so that the decisions that indigenous Australians make are as well-informed as possible,” Mr Mundine said.

The dialogue group is expected to meet formally twice a year, with more frequent contact, as required, through the executive of the Australian Uranium Association.

The indigenous members of the group will manage the collection and presentation of wider input from indigenous viewpoints around Australia.

It is expected the IDG will evolve in ways that bring wider benefits and will attract additional indigenous members with valuable knowledge, expertise and experience.

The founding members of the Australian Uranium Association’s Indigenous Dialogue Group are:

Mr Warren Mundine, Chief Executive Officer, NTSCorp Ltd.
Mr Parry Agius, Chief Executive Officer, South Australia Native Title Services Ltd.
Mr Barry Taylor, former Executive Chairman, Ngarda Civil and Mining Pty Ltd.
Prof. Marcia Langton, foundation Professor of Australian Indigenous Studies, University of Melbourne
Mr Clinton Wolf, Consultant on indigenous economic development
Mr Dean Dalla Valle, President and Chief Operating Officer, Olympic Dam, BHP Billiton Ltd.
Mr Rob Atkinson, Chief Executive, Energy Resources of Australia Ltd.
Mr Greg Hall, Managing Director, Toro Energy Ltd.
Mr Mal Wedd, Director, Resource Development, Heathgate Resources Ltd.
Mr Michael Angwin, Executive Director, Australian Uranium Association