Native title and mining leases co-exist


The High Court of Australia has made a landmark ruling in favour of traditional owners following a long-running native title dispute in Western Australia's Pilbara region.

The Ngarla people were granted a native title claim in the East Pilbara in 2007. But there was a dispute over whether a mining lease extinguished their rights.

The Federal Court ruled in favour of the traditional owners in 2012, however, that decision was challenged by the WA government.

On Wednesday the High Court dismissed the appeal and determined that native title rights were not extinguished by 50-year-old mining leases.

Yamatji Marlpa Aboriginal Corporation chief executive Simon Hawkins said it was "very disappointing" that the state government had challenged the Federal Court ruling.

"The courts had been clear all along that the native title rights did not prevent mining companies from doing anything they were lawfully allowed to do under their mineral leases," he said.