Our Agreement

Overview

In September 2004, Traditional Owners of the Argyle mine area signed a Participation Agreement with Argyle that provides a formal and binding acknowledgement of Traditional Owners' rights and interests, including native title rights, in the mining lease area.

The Agreement, which was registered by the National Native Title Tribunal as an Indigenous Land Use Agreement in April 2005, builds significantly on the Good Neighbour Agreement, signed in 1980, under which Argyle continues to make annual payments to local indigenous communities for access to the mining lease area.

In essence, the Participation Agreement recognises Traditional Owners as the landlords of the Argyle mining lease, while recognising Argyle's right to continue its current mining operations and to establish an underground mining operation. It also formally establishes a long-term relationship between the two parties, based on a shared desire to build a better future for indigenous communities in the East Kimberley. Traditional Owners were represented throughout the negotiation process by the Kimberley Land Council.

A Traditional Owner relationship committee - comprising 26 Traditional Owner representatives and four Argyle representatives - meets quarterly to jointly monitor the implementation of the Agreement.

Click here for ILUA information

Indigenous Land Use Agreement

The ILUA is unique in Western Australia because it was negotiated even though Argyle has existing mining titles and did not legally require any new titles to continue its mining operations. The agreement was voluntary, but considered necessary by the parties to establish a partnership arrangement between Argyle and the Traditional Owners, upon which community and economic development extending beyond 2020 could take place.

The ILUA also established a process whereby Argyle, the Traditional Owners and the Kimberley Land Council will work together to ensure that the Traditional Owners' native title rights are recognised to their greatest extent. This will require the cooperation of the State of Western Australia, and the parties have agreed to work collaboratively to obtain the State's consent to the proposed native title arrangements.

Key elements of the ILUA

The key elements of the ILUA are as follows:

  • The agreement area covers the Argyle Diamond Mine mining and grazing leases.
  • Argyle and all parties recognise indigenous interests at all levels including individual senior Traditional Owners, all Traditional Owners with rights and interests in the agreement area and local Aboriginal communities.
  • The Traditional Owners recognise the validity of all Argyle's interests in the agreement area.
  • The Traditional Owners provide their consent to and support for all ongoing mining operations, including the underground development.
  • The historical relationship arising out of the 1980 Good Neighbour Agreement between Argyle and certain senior Traditional Owners is reconciled.
  • The historical payments to local Aboriginal communities is now incorporated in the ILUA and additional communities receive benefits.

Argyle will pay benefits into two trusts:

  • A charitable trust, Gelganyem Trust, which secures a capital fund for future generations and creates funds to support: Law and culture, Education and training, Community development partnerships, and
  • A discretionary trust, Kilkayi Trust, which allows for benefits to be provided to the Traditional Owners for the agreement area.
  • The historical relationship arising out of the 1980 Good Neighbour Agreement between Argyle and certain senior Traditional Owners is reconciled.
  • The ILUA provides for the transfer of a grazing lease to the Traditional Owners at the completion of mining operations.
  • The ILUA provides a mechanism for the recognition of native title rights over the grazing lease area.
  • To ensure transparency, the agreement apart from some key financial provisions is publicly available.
  • To assist understanding and implementation, the ILUA has plain English descriptions of key clauses throughout.

The Management Plan Agreement (MPA)

The Management Plan Agreement (MPA) includes the following eight Management Plans (MP) that set out how Argyle Diamond Mine and Traditional Owners interact in matters pertaining to the mine. The Relationship Committee monitors the implementation and review of the Management Plans

  • Aboriginal site protection
    • This Management Plan sets out the rules for how Argyle Diamond Mine and Traditional Owners look after Aboriginal sites. There are more than 50 Aboriginal heritage sites identified on the Argyle mining lease. Argyle acknowledges that the mining lease area is rich in both archaeological and ethnographic sites.
    • Under the MP, Traditional Owners have cleared the Current Mining Area, which includes all past and current mining operations as at September 2004. For all areas outside the Current Mining Area, Argyle is required to submit a Work Program Clearance (WPC) to Traditional Owners, before conducting any ground disturbing work. There is an agreed mechanism for discussion in the field to ensure any work that Argyle proposes does not impact on Aboriginal sites. The MP for Aboriginal Site Protection is at the forefront of site protection in Western Australia.
  • Training and employment
    • Argyle has committed to increase the proportion of local workers at the mine to 80% within an agreed timeframe, half of whom will be Aboriginal. At present over a quarter of Argyle's workforce is Aboriginal. The MP sets out what assistance and preference Traditional Owners can receive in terms of training and employment at the mine. Traditional Owners also commit to keeping children at school, so they can later enter the workforce with suitable qualifications.
  • Cross-cultural training,
    • Argyle commits to providing all employees and long term contractors with Cross Cultural Training. Traditional Owners are involved with the delivery of this training and Manthe (an Aboriginal Ceremony to welcome people to country and keep them safe) is now incorporated as part of Argyle's weekly site safety induction process.
    • Two Aboriginal owned businesses deliver 1 and 2 day Cross Cultural Training courses to all Argyle employees and long term contractors.
  • Land access,
    • The MP sets out how Traditional Owners can access the mine lease area other than the Designated Areas and current mining operations areas. Access is controlled through a Gate List which Traditional Owners are required to keep up to date. Argyle will also hold the grazing lease on trust for Traditional Owners for the life of the mine, at which time it will be transferred to them, unless the transfer occurs earlier. Argyle supports the conversion of the grazing lease to freehold, which will strengthen Traditional Owners' native title rights claim over the area.
  • Land management
    • There is an annual mine tour where Traditional Owners can raise any issues relating to land and water management. Argyle must also discuss any major rehabilitation and decommissioning proposals with Traditional Owners and seek their views before proceeding.
    • Any land management proposal Traditional Owners submit to Argyle will be included in Argyle's Annual Environment Report and the Annual Sustainability Report.
  • Decommissioning,
    • The MP sets out the mechanism of how Argyle will talk to Traditional Owners about what to leave at the mine site for them, after mining is complete and what Traditional Owners need to provide for that to take place. The State Government needs to be party to any infrastructure remaining in-situ.
  • Business development and contracting,
    • The MP sets out the support Argyle will provide to Traditional Owners in supporting existing businesses and establishing new ones. There is also a mechanism for Traditional Owners to be informed of any contracts coming up, over a certain value and the preferences that apply; and
  • Management of a protected men's area.

The management plans were deliberately excluded from the ILUA to ensure the parties maintained sufficient flexibility around the management of these issues over such a long-term agreement. The Management Plan Agreement therefore sets up a Relationship Committee consisting of representatives from Argyle and the Traditional Owners. The committee monitors the implementation of the management plans and can easily amend their terms as circumstances require.

The Management Plan Agreement is directed at ensuring that Traditional Owners are not only recognised as stakeholders in Argyle's business, but actively participate in the planning for and operation of the mine.

Ethnography of the Argyle Diamond Mine Lease

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A major part of the Agreement process was to determine who the Aboriginal people are who hold or held native title over the Argyle Diamond Mine Lease area and are referred to as Traditional Owners. The ADM lease area includes both the mine lease and grazing lease areas. The ethnography identified the Traditional Owners so that they were able to negotiate the ILUA and Management Plan Agreement with Argyle.

The ethnography determined that there was and still remains to this day, a traditional system that designates geographical areas or estates (Dawang) to particular sets of people.

The estate groups' traditional title is based on a traditional system of laws and customs by which they gain their rights and interests according to specific principles. This includes the concept of the Dreaming or Ngarranggarni - (Gods).

This map shows the geographic extent of claimant applications as per Schedule of Applications - Federal Court status and determinations of native title as per the National Native Title Register within the Western Australian Representative Aboriginal/Torres Strait Islander Body (RATSIB) areas as defined in s203AD of the Native Title Act 1993 (Cwlth).

Click here to view Map

agreement map