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Media Release
Senator the Hon Robert Hill
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister for the Environment and Heritage


28 May 1999

Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Robert Hill, has decided not to make an emergency declaration of protection in relation to an area of land on the Jabiluka Mineral lease.

Senator Hill has received an application from the Gundjehmi Aboriginal Corporation for both emergency and long term protection over an area that the applicant refers to as the "Boiweg-Almudj Sacred Site Complex"(the specified area).

The application under the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act 1984 (the Act), relates to both the surface of the area and the earth below. The Jabiluka ore body lies beneath the specified area.

Energy Resources of Australia Pty Ltd has previously agreed not to disturb the ground surface within the specified area, and plans to enter the ore body from outside its boundaries. Mining is currently occurring in a tunnel below the specified area at a depth of over 150 metres.

Senator Hill indicated that, after considering all of the available evidence he was not satisfied that the specified area was a significant area in terms of the Act. He has therefore declined to make an emergency declaration.

Senator Hill said that all recognised sacred and significant sites on the Jabiluka Mineral lease were fully protected.

The application for longer term protection for the specified area will be considered under the provision of the Act.

The Act provides for a public reporting process to address issues relating to the application for longer term protection. As part of this process, a report will be prepared addressing the significance of the area, any threats to it, protection available under Territory laws and the proprietary and pecuniary interests of others. The report, and any representation on the report, must be considered before a final decision on long term protection is made.

Media contact: Rod Bruem (02) 6277 7640

Commonwealth of Australia