Fortescue Metals Group (FMG) will appeal the native title ruling that opened the door to increased royalties compensation to the Aboriginal corporation where the company’s Solomon Hub mine is based.
The Federal Court in Sydney ended a 14-year native dispute – and a 10-year battle with Fortescue over royalty payments from the Solomon iron ore project – over a 2,700 square kilometres area of the Pilbara’s Hamersley Ranges region, granting exclusive rights to the Yindjibandi people.
The iron ore-rich Solomon Hub is 60km north of Tom Price and 120km west of the Chichester Hub.
Fortescue had backed an Aboriginal splinter group that also claimed native title in the area and was more willing to negotiate terms with the company, but yesterday Justice Stephen Rares concluded that those claimants had failed to prove they had Yindjibarndi ancestry.
The decision opened the door on possible legal action for royalties from Fortescue’s multi-billion-dollar mine by the Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation, which was first granted native title in 2003.
In a statement yesterday to the ASX following the verdict, Fortescue said expects it will have no impact on the current and future operations or mining tenure at the Solomon Hub.
“We have no commercial concerns and do not anticipate any material financial impact following the Court’s determination,” the company said.
But following the decision, Fortescue’s share price dropped 3.5%, and fell a further 2.12% today to currently at $5.08 in afternoon trade.
And today on ABC radio, Fortescue CEO Nev Power said he disagreed with the court’s decision and was looking to appeal.
“It’s a very unusual decision in that the judge has found exclusive native title possession on this land, which we think is unlikely to be the case,” he said.
“So we will be looking at it definitely and considering an appeal.”
The company has yet to announce its decision to the ASX.
The ABC has more here.