In September 2013, Martu reached an agreement with Fortescue Metals Group that will facilitate Fortescue’s greenfield exploration on Martu country.
The Exploration Land Access Agreement, will facilitate Fortescue’s exploration programme, while providing the Martu people with a range of commercial benefits, including contracting and business opportunities.
Under the Exploration Agreement, the Martu People are guaranteed a number of positions in Fortescue’s Vocational Training and Employment Centre (VTEC) which provides pre-employment training and support to Aboriginal people and guaranteed employment upon graduation.
A Business Sub-Committee will also be established to identify and implement business and contracting opportunities for Martu people.
Importantly, the agreement provides protection for areas which hold significant cultural and heritage value to the Martu people, while bringing economic opportunities to the region.
In signing the agreement WDLAC Chairman Teddy Biljabu said: Given current economic conditions, Martu have been proactive and pragmatic in negotiations for access to country.
As this agreement demonstrates, Martu are open and keen to do business. The Martu people have also signed Indigenous Land Use Agreements (ILUA) with Cameco Australia and Potash explorer Reward Minerals.
Fortescue CEO Nev Power travelled to Parnngurr in the remote Western Desert to meet the WDLAC board. He said Fortescue was pleased to have been able to reach this agreement which recognises the special relationship the Martu People have with their traditional country and provides them with jobs and business opportunity. The agreement also enables Fortescue to confidently invest in exploration in the remote Western Desert, Mr Power said.