The Wik people in Queensland’s far north have signed an economic treaty with an international business consortium that will see them export wood from tree lopping in Aurukun to Asia.
The treaty was signed in Cairns this month at a meeting between Wik people representatives and corporate investors from China.
The meeting was the culmination of eight months of negotiations for an international trade deal between the two parties.
The deal, reportedly worth $600 million, will include building a saw mill in Aurukun to provide jobs for the local people and also the replanting of trees and rejuvenation of country.
The Aurukun people plan to recycle and export wood that is currently chopped down and burnt for land clearing by mining giant Rio Tinto.
Wik Nation leader Barbara Bandicootcha said the deal would lay the foundations for a better future for their children.
“We are thinking of our kids, you know, our future generations,” she said. “So they don’t have to struggle in life like we have.”
The Wik people are the traditional owners of part of western Cape York in north Queensland.