The Northern Territory’s Mataranka region was made famous by the Australian novel by Jeannie Gunn, We of the Never Never.
The Mataranka springs and aquifers are the lifeblood of this vibrant and ancient landscape, featuring free flowing tropical rivers and thermal springs fed by interconnected underground waterways.
Tens of thousands of recreational and fishing tourists visit the Never Never region each year.
In this remote Northern Territory paradise, local jobs, cattle, tourism and farming businesses and livelihoods could be in jeopardy if shale gasfields spread across the region.
Traditional Owners are seeking a legal injunction and reversal of fracking approval on Aboriginal owned land near Mataranka Hot Springs.
The Northern Territory Government granted shale gas exploration licences across the Mataranka region to mining billionaire Gina Rinehart, through her company Hancock Prospecting.
Shale gas exploration permit EP154, covering 6500 square kilometres of Aboriginal-owned land near Mataranka in the Northern Territory was granted to Minerals Australia (a wholly owned subsidiary of Hancock Prospecting) and Jacaranda Minerals (50% owned by Hancock Prospecting) in March 2015.
The NT Government claimed the agreement as ‘historic’, as it was the first shale gas permit to be granted on Aboriginal-owned land in the Northern Territory’s Top End. Under Aboriginal Land Rights Act (NT), Aboriginal owners have the right to veto mining, only if they do so at the exploration phase.
Over 380 members of Aboriginal land trusts across the Mataranka region say that neither the fracking company nor the Northern Land Council consulted adequately over shale gas fracking plans and its potential impacts on land and water.
Traditional Owners are contesting the validity of the fracking agreement, arguing neither the company nor the Northern Land Council explained during consultation the scale and risks of an operational shale gasfield and used no interpreters to explain complex mining techniques. An overwhelming majority of Traditional Owners argue they were excluded from consultation meetings entirely.
The region’s pastoralists, food growers and tourism operators are also backing the Traditional Owners, arguing that their livelihoods are at stake if shale gas fracking goes ahead in the Roper River catchment and around Mataranka.
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