Abstract: Since the 1970s, a progressive acknowledgement of Indigenous peoples’ rights has developed in Australia, focusing on land rights as a key to empowerment. This has come to redefine the uneasy relations between Indigenous communities, governments and energy resource developers, the latter having more often than not encroached on Aboriginal land and ignored Aboriginal concerns for the sake of direct economic rewards. A case in point is that of uranium mining which, well after the Second World War, was still used for military purposes within Australia, leaving many Aboriginal communities to struggle with devastating environmental and health consequences. Looking at Australia’s 1977 decision to proceed with uranium mining for peaceful purposes at Ranger (Northern Territory), and comparing it with the more recent government approval of the Olympic Dam (South Australia) expansion project, this article will attempt to assess how Indigenous issues have been taken into account in uranium mining development projects then and now. It will focus more particularly on the agreements arrived at between the governments, the mining companies and the Aboriginal communities themselves, the outcomes of these agreements, as well as the different factors that may have had an impact on how Indigenous issues have been taken into account within uranium mining development projects throughout the years.

Keywords: Aboriginal peoples; uranium; land rights; Ranger; Olympic Dam

Copyright © Sandrine Tolazzi 2012. This text may be archived and redistributed both in electronic form and in hard copy, provided that the author and journal are properly cited and no fee is charged.