Gumala Foundation

The naming of the Gumala Foundation has an important meaning. In Bunjima language, Gumala means “all together”. This name is used because the three language groups – Bunjima, Yinhawangka and Nyiyaparli – combined to negotiate the Yandi Land Use Agreement (YLUA) and the General Gumala Foundation Trust Deed (Trust Deed).

This historic YLUA signed in 1997 by Hamersley Iron Pty Ltd (now owned by Rio Tinto) was the first of its kind in Western Australia, enabling mining activity on Traditional Land in exchange for compensation paid to the Traditional Owners. The Trust Deed was signed in the same year.

The Trust Deed is a comprehensive, 34-page legal document between Gumala Aboriginal Corporation (The Manager), Gumala Investments Pty Ltd (The Trustee), and the Traditional Owners of the three language groups which make up Gumala.

To view the complete Gumala Trust Deed document, click here.

To view the Rights & Obligations of the Trustee, click here.

To view the Rights & Obligations of the Manager, click here.

GGF and Native Title
The YLUA involved the Native Title claimants of land covered by Hamersley Iron’s Yandicoogina iron ore project. It provides for all mining and infrastructure (miscellaneous) titles for the life of the project and for exploration over the whole claim area.

The agreement was the first major land use agreement to be concluded after the 1992 Mabo decision, and took over twelve months to complete. No native title claim had been made when negotiations started and it was only after the three language groups had come together in discussions with Hamersley Iron that they decided after some 12 months of discussion, to join, to make a claim and negotiate as one group. Negotiations were initially outside the scope of the Native Title Act, but once agreement between the Indigenous and mining parties was reached, ‘it was necessary to provide Hamersley with the legislative certainty that it required for the project.’

As the agreement predated the 1998 Native Title Act amendments, it could not be registered as an Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA). Clive Senior, who was employed as a mediator in the negotiations, documented the process of negotiating the agreement. This document, emphasising the need for attention to the process of commencing and undertaking negotiations, is recommended for industry as an important case study, and provides much useful information on processes for commencing effective negotiations on major projects.

Yandicoogina Mine
Hamersley Iron’s Yandicoogina Mine began operations in 1998. The minesite is 95 kilometres north-west of Newman, which borders the eastern edge of the spectacular Karijini National Park. It is an open pit operation with site-based processing facilities.

The mine site has the capacity to produce 57 million tonnes of iron ore per annum.

To visit Rio Tinto’s Website, click here.