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Land Rights and Exploration – A Case History


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Author Denholm LS


In 1969, Queensland Mines Limited obtained two large Prospecting Authorities in Arnhem Land, Northern Territory, Australia. The Nabarlek uranium deposit containing some 12 000 t of U308 was discovered on one of these in June 1970. Mining and stockpiling of this deposit were completed in 1979 and processing to yellowcake, which commenced in June 1980, is expected to occupy an 8-10 year period. The continuation of exploration, essential for the company to become a longer- term producer, was inhibited in 1972 by a Federal Government “freeze” on exploration in Aboriginal Reserves in the Northern Territory. Subsequently, the procedure for explorers to gain access to exploration areas in Aboriginal land was radically changed by the proclamation of the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976. As a result of this Act and the associated administrative policies adopted by Governments, Queensland Mines Limited has not yet regained access to the exploration areas it formally held in the early 1970’s.