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Thalanyji people sign landmark Onslow Iron agreement

Published on 11 July 2024

Buurabalayji Thalanyji Aboriginal Corporation (BTAC) has signed a land use agreement that will deliver mutual benefits for the life of Onslow Iron, Australia’s newest iron ore project.

The Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA) is the result of more than two years of collaboration by BTAC and Mineral Resources (MinRes) that culminated in a Common Law Holders meeting in Onslow.

MinRes Managing Director Chris Ellison and Thalanyji Common Law Holders attended the on-country meeting, where it was resolved to authorise the landmark agreement.

Onslow Iron is a joint venture comprised of MinRes, Baowu, AMCI and POSCO. MinRes designed, constructed and operates Onslow Iron, which delivered its first iron ore shipment in May 2024.

BTAC is the prescribed body corporate for the Thalanyji People that holds native title determination over 11,120 square kilometres of land in the West Pilbara region.

The co-designed ILUA strengthens the partnership between MinRes and BTAC, who will work together for the next 30-plus years to create opportunities for the Thalanyji people.

Mineral Resources Image
MinRes Managing Director Chris Ellison and BTAC Chair Frances Hayes at the ILUA

The ILUA Is critical to unlocking Onslow Iron as it provides for the use of the western section of Onslow Iron’s dedicated haul road that links the Ken’s Bore mine site to the Port of Ashburton.

BTAC conducted cultural heritage surveys prior to construction of the dedicated haul road and continue to provide monitoring services to ensure the protection of cultural heritage.

In addition to financial benefits, the ILUA includes an employment pathway for future generations of Thalanyji people via a commitment by the Onslow Iron joint venture to create apprenticeships and traineeships every year.

MinRes has awarded long-term contracts for works at Onslow Iron to seven Thalanyji-owned businesses, with two further contracts under development with BTAC’s business enterprise. MinRes’ support has included start-up grants, finance guarantees and business administration support.

The agreement includes an Employment Plan and Indigenous Business Development Strategy, with the obligations and commitments to be overseen by an ILUA Liaison Committee.

Buurabalayji Thalanyji Aboriginal Corporation Chair Frances Hayes said:

“This agreement is the start of a positive relationship between the Thalanyji people and MinRes.

“This agreement will help the Thalanyji community through employment, training and business opportunities with hopes of making Thalanyji people prosperous for decades to come.

“I want to thank MinRes for working alongside BTAC throughout the co-design process to support the vision of a bright future that we have for our people and their children.”

MinRes Managing Director Chris Ellison said: “I am grateful to the Thalanyji people for entrusting MinRes with the responsibility of implementing this agreement. I am excited by the future successes we will share at Onslow Iron.

“As the first agreement of its kind signed by MinRes, this is a proud moment for the company and signifies our ongoing commitment to partner with Traditional Owners on whose land we operate.”


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