Four Corners - Iron and Dust
Andrew "Twiggy" Forrest is one of Australia's richest men. He wants to cut a deal that would give his company, Fortescue Metals Group(FMG), access to a massive chunk of land in Australia's mineral rich northwest. Michael Woodley is an elder of the Yindjibarndi people that effectively holds Native Title rights to the land in question. So far they've been unable to agree on a compensation package that could make both the company and the community rich. What's gone wrong and is there a way to find common ground?
In mining terms it's called Solomon Hub, a body of land 200 kilometres south of Roebourne on the north-west coast of Western Australia. It's estimated the land holds iron ore worth $280 billion dollars at current prices. Over the next 40 years FMG is hoping to scrape some 2.4 billion tonnes of ore from the land. The infrastructure and people that come with this type of development will inevitably reduce much of the country to an industrial landscape.
In return, FMG is offering a deal that would deliver the Indigenous owners cash payments of four and a half million dollars a year and undertakings to provide training, jobs and infrastructure worth up to six and a half million dollars a year. The Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation says it wants an uncapped royalty that would guarantee them a share in FMG's expected profits.
Four Corners looks at how a potential windfall that could benefit so many has become mired in bitter dispute. Is Andrew Forrest right that royalties could be the road to ruin? Are sections of the Yindjibarndi simply asking for too much? Is the Native Title legislation ruinously flawed?
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