Northern Minerals and Jaru people finalise Co-existence Agreement

June 17th 2014

Keogh Bay was contracted to advise Northern Minerals towards its native title agreement with Jaru people in late 2012. Northern Minerals was looking for advisors who could help them build on their good relationship with Jaru people through the agreement process and beyond.

Keogh Bay director Matt Wrigley had long connections with Jaru people going back to the late 1980’s when he had learned the Jaru language while working as a linguist at the Kimberley Language Resource Centre in Halls Creek.

Matt remembers that start of the Northern Minerals’ project, “This was a dream project for us because it was a chance to help a great company like Northern Minerals find ways to work with a great group of people like the Jaru. Northern Minerals’ approach from Day 1 told us they were interested in building a long-term relationship rather than just getting people to sign on the dotted line. We tend to avoid organisations that are not interested in mutual benefit.”

Three things made Northern Minerals stand out – they had already worked hard to employ Jaru people in their exploration work; they wanted to handle the negotiations themselves to build a direct relationship, and they were keen to learn as much as they could about the history and culture of Jaru people.

Keogh Bay assisted Northern Minerals to understand the types of clauses that typically exist in native title agreements and develop a clear position on key issues based on solid principles of mutual benefit, the value of the long-term relationship and the practical realities of implementation.

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Kundat Jaru Community – the site of recently concluded Northern Minerals agreement with Jaru people

The use of Plain English was critical in this agreement making process, with many Jaru people speaking English as a second or third language. We are able to assist Northern Minerals in developing Plain English communication materials and presentations.

Perhaps our proudest moment was seeing the Northern Minerals CEO, George Bauk speak a little Jaru in his speech at the agreement signing. Few things communicate respect to people of another culture like taking the time to use their language.

The ASX announcement concerning the agreement can be found here:

http://northernminerals.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/1406-16-Co-Existence-Agreement-finalised-for-Browns-Range-Project.pdf

An outline of Keogh Bay’s approach to agreement making and agreement making services can be found here:

http://keoghbayconsulting.com.au/services/social-license-to-operate/

We expect to provide a more detailed case study of the Northern Minerals/Jaru agreement making process in the near future.