The Northern Land Council and Waanyi-Garawa Aboriginal Land Trust have successfully sought an interlocutory injunction to stop a mining company entering Aboriginal land in the Northern Territory.
The Federal Court this month granted the council and the traditional owners the injunction against UAU Pty Ltd after they raised concerns there could be permanent damage to the land, particularly around sacred sites.
Justice Richard White ordered that UAU not enter or cross any land within the Waanyi-Garawa Aboriginal Land Trust Area, which lies on the Northern Territory-Queensland border.
The company was also restrained from causing damage to the Aboriginal land or carrying out any activity on it, including exploration or mining activities.
Officers of the company could be jailed or equipment seized if the court order is breached.
The order came after UAU recently acquired a mineral lease, which is within and surrounded by the Land Trust land.
In granting the injunction, Justice White said the company had told the NLC that drilling of sample holes was to begin on July 6, despite the fact the NLC and the company had not agreed on a route for the drilling contractor to cross the Aboriginal land.
He said he accepted the order would bring the company’s drilling program to a halt.
“I take into account, however, that there is a sense in which the respondent seems to have brought this predicament upon itself, because it has had ample opportunity since May to take up the invitation of the NLC to negotiate an access agreement, but has chosen not to do so,” he said.
The matter will be back before the court in September.