Resource developments on Indigenous lands in Australia: The James Price Point Gas Precinct

Margaret Anne Stevenson, Tina Hunter

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingPublished conference contribution


Today, in Australia, it is increasingly common to see agreements between Indigenous peoples and resource companies being achieved generally as Indigenous Land Use Agreements or agreements pursuant to the ‘right to negotiation’ process under the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth). Despite progress in this area, resource development on Indigenous lands is not without its challenges for both the resource proponents and the Indigenous parties. History demonstrates that resource development on Indigenous lands has produced struggles between the traditional owners of the land and the resource proponents. In Australia their relationship is generally defined by issues of access to land and assuring continued access to the land for the life of the project. In this context, divisions in Indigenous communities often emerge. The proposed resource project can have the effect of polarising members of an Indigenous community. It may be regarded by some traditional land owners as an advantageous opportunity for the community and by others as a hazard to country and culture. The process of agreement making has proved not only a test for the Indigenous community but also for the resource proponent. In this paper we undertake a contemporary case study of a proposed Australian resource related-development project on Indigenous lands. This project involved a multi-billion gas hub precinct proposed at James Price Point in the Kimberley region in Western Australia. The James Price Point proposal produced a litany of challenges for all parties. The traditional owners faced fundamental social and human rights issues, including a minority opposition to the project, the project's potential cultural heritage impact, the threat of compulsory acquisition of their native title interest by a State government due to an initial failure to settle an agreement, a fracture of their unsettled land claim and a minority rejection of the agreement ultimately reached. Additionally, the ‘green’ lobby also rejected the proposed gas hub on environmental grounds bringing the green lobby into direct conflict with both the traditional owners in favour of the project and the resource proponent. Ultimately, Woodside announced its decision not to proceed with the proposed gas precinct at James Price Point, in April 2013. In this paper we analyse the complexity of the James Price Point gas hub negotiations with the traditional owners which resulted in an Agreement that promised to deliver substantial benefits for the Indigenous communities. We question why such a favourable and beneficial agreement for the Indigenous community also produced the plethora of challenges and concerns and we consider how future negotiation processes could be better structured to avoid the difficulties that have confronted Indigenous land owners and resource proponents alike.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication23rd World Mining Congress 2013 Proceedings
PublisherCanadian Institute of Mining, Metallurgy and Petroleum
Number of pages10
ISBN (Print)9781926872155
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Event23rd World Mining Congress 2013 - Montreal, Canada
Duration: 11 Aug 201315 Aug 2013


Conference23rd World Mining Congress 2013
Abbreviated titleWMC 2013
Internet address

Bibliographical note

The author would like to thank the following colleagues from the EOMINERS project for valuable discussions and input:
• Anne Bourguignon, Francois Blanchard, Stéphane Chevrel, BRGM, France
• Stuart Marsh, Colm Jordan, Fiona McEvoy, Barbara Palumbo-Roe, British Geological Survey
• Eyal Ben Dor, Simon Adar, Tel Aviv University, Israel
• Christian Fischer, Christoph Ehrler, Grégoire Kerr, DLR (German Aerospace Agency)
• Phillip Schepelmann, Dominic Wittmer, Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy, Germany
• Slavko Solar, Gorazd Zibret, Anna Burger, Geological Survey of Slovenia
• Henk Coetzee, Bantu Hanise, Council for Geoscience, South Africa
• Fatima Ferraz, Anglo Coal, South Africa
• Eberhard Falck, Joachim Spangenberg, Université de Versailles St Quentin, France
• Veronika Kopackova, Czech Geological Survey
• Petr Rojik, Sokolovska Uhelna, Czech Republic
• Ernis Kylychbaev, Central Asian Institute for Applied Geosciences, Kyrgyzstan
• Galina Cheban, KyrgyzAltyn, Kyrgyzstan

Stephenson, Margaret Anne and Hunter, Tina (2013). Resource developments on Indigenous lands in Australia: The James Price Point Gas Precinct. In: 23rd World Mining Congress 2013 Proceedings. 23rd World Mining Congress, Montreal, Canada, (1-10). 11-15 August 2013.


  • Negotiations
  • Consultation
  • Indigenous
  • Aboriginal
  • Indigenous informed fonsent
  • Mining/resource agreements


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