Australian Landowner Group ‘Hopeful’ for Energy Resources Accord

A representative of the Aboriginal landowners in Australia’s Northern Territory negotiating a uranium mining agreement with Energy Resources of Australia Ltd. said he’s hopeful the talks will be completed soon.

Energy Resources, the operator of the Ranger mine, is close to completing an agreement to strengthen ties with the Mirarr and ensure that the traditional owners benefit financially, Chief Executive Officer Rob Atkinson said in a Sept. 21 interview in Darwin. The uranium producer controlled by Rio Tinto Group plans to finish mining its open pit at the end of the year and then process stockpiled ore as it evaluates whether it can go ahead with a potential expansion project.

“Getting that right in the twilight years of the Ranger uranium mine is what we’re seeking to do now,” Justin O’Brien, executive officer of the Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corp., said in a phone interview yesterday from Belgium. “ERA’s commitment to expediting it is welcome, and their keenness to engage with our issues in terms of the environment is welcome.”

The possibility of extending a mining lease past 2021 isn’t currently “on the table,” O’Brien said. “We are talking about redressing historical financial inequities.”

O’Brien, in Europe meeting with members of parliaments, environmental groups and other organizations to discuss uranium mining, said he’s “hopeful for a speedy conclusion.”

Energy Resources is getting close to completing an agreement, the company said today in an e-mailed statement.

“If the Ranger 3 Deeps deposit is economically viable to mine, we will work very hard and very closely with all of the stakeholders, and most importantly the Mirarr, about the possibility of extending the lease,” ERA reiterated today.

To contact the reporter on this story: James Paton in Sydney at jpaton4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jason Rogers at jrogers73@bloomberg.net

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