• Murrawah Johnson (left) and Adrian Burragubba (right) from the Wangan and Jagalingou traditional owners group. (AAP)
Traditional Owners fighting the Adani coal mine could have their legal challenge dismissed if they don't front up $50,000 by the end of January.
By
Ella Archibald-Binge

18 Dec 2018 - 4:03 PM  UPDATED 18 Dec 2018 - 4:03 PM

Wangan and Jagalingou Traditional Owners fighting the Adani coal mine have been ordered to pay $50,000 in security costs by the end of January – or face having their legal case struck out.

The sum is less than a third of what was requested by the Indian conglomerate, which sought $160,000 as an assurance that traditional owners can cover Adani’s legal costs if their legal bid is unsuccessful.

Five Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) native title claimants are seeking to invalidate a land deal which is crucial to the advancement of the mine.

They lost their case in August – but will appeal the ruling before the full bench of the federal court next year.

Adani claims the W&J group will owe more than $600,000 to cover the mining company's legal costs if the appeal fails. 

In the federal court on Tuesday, Justice Alan Robertson said Adani's proposed security costs of $160,000 was a "disproportionate" estimate.

He said $50,000 was an "appropriate" amount given the "relatively uncomplicated nature" of the appeal, which is likely to be heard next May. 

If the amount is not paid to the court by the end of January, Justice Robertson ordered that the appeal be dismissed. 

The court heard the W&J had relied on public donations to fund their legal costs so far. On Friday, the group renewed calls for donations through its online fundraising campaign. 

Twelve native title claimants split

Last month, Adani announced it would self-fund a scaled down version of the controversial mine, with construction to begin next year.

The company's Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA) with the W&J people is crucial to the project, as it allows native title to be permanently extinguished over sections of land to make way for construction. 

Twelve W&J native title claimants are split down the middle on whether they support the ILUA. 

Five of those claimants are seeking to legally invalidate the deal, labelling it a "sham". 

Earlier this year, Justice John Reeves dismissed the W&J's legal challenge, ruling their claims had "no merit". 

W&J Traditional Owners will now appeal the decision before the full bench of the federal court.