students join traditional owners to protest against BHP Billiton & Martin Ferguson

Traditional Owners from nuclear sites in SA and the NT will today join students from across the country to protest at BHP Billiton's headquarters and resources minister Martin Ferguson's city office

Australia’s largest student gathering targets world’s biggest uranium mining company


Traditional Owners from nuclear sites in SA and the NT will today join students from across the country to protest at BHP Billiton's headquarters and resources minister Martin Ferguson's city office.

With hundreds of students converging on Melbourne for the annual Students of Sustainability conference, today's protest is timely with BHP Billiton having released an EIS detailing its plan to make Olympic Dam in SA the world's largest uranium mine. Kokatha custodian Rebecca Bear Bubda Wingfield will attend today's protest and present BHP Billiton with her report on nuclear activities on her homelands here in Australia and a copy of the Manila Declaration that summarises Indigenous people’s concerns about mining and corporate responsibility raised at a recent UN forum. Ms Wingfield said: "It is not acceptable for people to suffer any longer, that is why the international mining industry needs to see and accept the dangers of uranium mining. It contaminates our waters and lies in tailings dams around the mine at Olympic Dam. It affects our water, our animals, our food chain and our precious medicines and plants and flowers."

Friends of the Earth national nuclear campaigner Dr Jim Green said: "For all of BHP Billiton's hollow rhetoric about corporate social responsibility, the company operates the Olympic Dam mine under an indefensible Indenture Act which exempts it from key environmental and Aboriginal heritage laws. The company is hypocritical - funding Reconciliation Australia on the one hand while refusing to relinquish its exemptions from the SA Aboriginal Heritage Act on the other."

Today's protest will also target Martin Ferguson, who has refused to repeal blatantly racist Howard-era legislation in order to pursue his plan to foist a nuclear dump on Aboriginal land in the NT. Mitch, an Arrende custodian whose land at Harts Range in the NT has been short-listed for a nuclear dump, will attend today's protest. She said: "If this nuclear waste is so safe, why can't they keep it at the Lucas Heights nuclear plant in Sydney, where it is produced and where the nuclear experts work? We stand strong in our own culture as Indigenous people, and want the land and water to be protected for all children, black and white. We have enough issues of our own to deal with without having to deal with nuclear waste."

WHAT:  Protest at BHP Billiton headquarters, 180 Lonsdale St, moving to Martin Ferguson's city office (between Parliament House and Treasury Gardens)
WHEN:  10.30am, Wednesday July 8
CONTACTS: Jim Green - 0417 318368
Mitch - phone number available from Jim Green
Rebecca Bear Bubda Wingfield - phone number available from Jim Green