Incorporating Indigenous knowledge in mine closure: Ranger Uranium Mine

Christopher Brady, Peter Christophersen and Justin O'Brien

The Ranger Project Area, located on the lands of the Mirarr clan, is surrounded by Kakadu National Park. After 40 years of uranium production at Ranger Mine, rehabilitation has begun, with a commitment that the land will be restored to a standard such that it could be incorporated into Kakadu National Park. Historically, mine closure has not been done well in the Northern Territory, and little if any consideration has been given to the views of Aboriginal landowners. An Aboriginal perspective of country recognises the interrelationship, via local kinship and moiety systems, of all things – the rocks, plants, animals, people, stories, weather, ceremonies and tradition. There is an opportunity for this worldview to be incorporated into the rehabilitation of Ranger Mine. The mine’s operator ERA (a subsidiary of Rio Tinto) has agreed to Cultural Closure Criteria that reflect a desire of Bininj (Aboriginal people from the region) to again use the land for hunting and gathering, recreation and cultural practice. Allowing Aboriginal people to have input to rehabilitation planning demonstrates a respect for people’s knowledge and connection to country. At Ranger, where the mine was imposed against the wishes of the traditional owners, this is an important step in a return to stewardship of this land and reconnecting people to place.

Brady, C., Christophersen, P., & O'Brien, J. (2021). Incorporating indigenous knowledge in mine closure: Ranger uranium mine. Proceedings of the Royal Society of Victoria133(1), 18–22.

Incorporating Indigenous knowledge in mine closure: Ranger Uranium Mine