20 October 2020
Engaging with Traditional Owners in the Beetaloo
We recognise and respect the connection all Traditional Owners have to their country - whether that’s Minyerri and Alawa Land to the north of our permits or Marlinja and west of the Stuart Highway.
The chairman’s response to Ms Wilfred’s question at today’s AGM was not suggesting that she isn’t a Traditional Owner - rather our exploration activities are not occurring on Ms Wilfred’s country. We understand some TOs may oppose fracking, but it’s also important to understand we are not exploring for gas or fracking on their lands or in their communities.
We work with the Northern Land Council (NLC) and engage with the Traditional Owners who are the Native Title holders for the areas within our exploration permits where activity is proposed and occurs. The NLC is the statutory representative body responsible for advising which Native Title holder family groups we engage with about our exploration, specific to where we are working. The process we follow to maintain the ongoing support of Native Title holders involves sharing work programs in advance, undertaking sacred site clearance surveys and participating in on-country meetings. To date, we have always received support for our planned activities, including hydraulic fracture stimulation.
Origin’s permit areas are very large – some 18,500 square kilometres spanning 10 pastoral leases over which Native Title has been determined. Our exploration activity to date has occurred on four pastoral leases in which there are 11 primary estate groups. The NLC has facilitated ongoing engagement with those groups who can speak for the areas where our exploration wells are located. For example, for our two current well site locations we have engaged with several family groups throughout 2018 and 2019. During 2020 we continued this engagement completing Sacred Site Clearance Surveys, visits to site and annual on-country meetings are scheduled for November.
Last month Native Title holders – the host Traditional Owners for where we’re currently working – visited site during fracking operations. They were able to inspect all the equipment and see how it works as well as spend time with our on-site specialists to see up close how the fracking process is safely undertaken – and importantly how their land and water is protected. We have completed fracking operations and have no plans to frack during the upcoming wet season.
We work closely and transparently with the NLC and our host Traditional Owners to ensure sacred sites are protected. This includes undertaking sacred site clearance surveys for each and every location - which are then certified by law by the Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority (AAPA). All exploration activity to date has been certified and complies with the NT Sacred Sites Act. Two weeks ago, Native Title holders travelled to several locations across our permit area by helicopter to undertake sacred site clearance surveys. This is an important part of how Traditional Owners engage and participate in decision making about where activity can take place. If the location and work activity is not certified by the AAPA, then no work can proceed. This best practice process in the Northern Territory ensures that sacred, significant and cultural heritage sites are avoided and protected. There are no sacred or significant sites identified at any of our Beetaloo well-site locations.
For more about how we engage with Native Title holders where we work, visit our website.