MEDIA RELEASE: Olkola People become the first Traditional Owners to successfully object to
mining exploration permits being issued under ‘expedited procedures’ in Queensland.
In late 2016 mining companies Lithium Australia and Gamboola Resources lodged 4 mining
exploration permits over the Olkola People’s Aboriginal Freehold land.
2 of these mining exploration permits were lodged directly over the core habitat of the golden
shouldered parrot (or Alwal in Olkola language). The golden shouldered parrot is an Olkola totem
and endangered species, and the Olkola People have been working in partnership with Bush
Heritage Australia to create a sanctuary for the recovery of the Alwal directly where Lithium
Australia was proposing mining exploration.
Gamboola Resources lodged one mining exploration permit over Olkola’s Alkura Story site, a
hydrologically unique, and culturally important mound spring system.
Since that time, Olkola People have been fighting for the right to protect their Country and Culture,
and the need for Traditional Owners’ custodial right to determine what can and cannot happen on
their own Country to be represented and respected under Queensland and Federal law.
Cape York Land Council represented the Olkola People in theses National Native Title Tribunal
matters. The decision handed down by the National Native Title Tribunal on 2 March 2018 signified
the first time in Queensland where Traditional Owners have been able to successfully argue that an
exploration permit for mining is not issued under what is known as the ‘expedited procedures’ but
rather that the full Right to Negotiate procedures under the Native Title Act should apply.
The decisions recognise the significant social and cultural activities being undertaken by the Olkola
People on this Country including operating their carbon abatement program, eco-tourism, cultural
camps and Alwal Recovery project, and the significant impact mining exploration would have on
these activities. The decisions also recognise the significant impact mining exploration will have on
important Olkola sites such as the Alkura Story Site or Crosbie mound springs.
However, even under the Right to Negotiate procedures, Olkola People will be required to do some
form of an agreement with these mining companies. The Native Title Act does not provide
Traditional Owners with the right to protect their Country from mining.
The core habitat of Olkola totem Alwal, the golden shouldered parrot, remains at threat by potential
mining exploration, and Olkola’s Alkura Story site, the Crosbie mound springs, remain at threat from
a potential drilling program.
Olkola People, however, also remain committed to doing all that is in their power to continue to
protect Country, Culture and ensure their totems and story places endure.
CASE: Michael Ross & Others on behalf of the Cape York United Number 1 Claim v Gamboola Resources Pty Ltd
and Another  NNTTA 10 (2 March 2018)
CASE: Michael Ross & Others on behalf of the Cape York United Number 1 Claim v Lithium Austraila NL and
Another  NNTTA 11 (2 March 2018)
Download the press release here.