• Yindjibarndi Traditional Owners celebrate after hearing the high court's decision (Supplied: Ngaarda Media)Source: Supplied: Ngaarda Media
Fortescue Metals Group has lost a High Court appeal to overturn Native Title rights over 2,700 square kilometres of land in the Pilbara, including the site of an iron ore mine.
Keira Jenkins

29 May 2020 - 3:48 PM  UPDATED 29 May 2020 - 3:56 PM
The High Court has dismissed Fortescue Metals Group's application to appeal a Native Title ruling covering its Solomon iron ore mine in Western Australia's Pilbara region.
The Federal Court recognised the Yindjibarndi people as having exclusive rights to more than 2700 square kilometres of land, including the Solomon mine, in 2017.
FMG's lawyer, Bret Walker SC, on Friday argued the Federal Court had failed to adequately consider the Yindjibarndi people's continuity of connection to the land when it made its decision.
The High Court in Brisbane disagreed. It dismissed the application.
FMG, which is owned by mining magnate, Andrew 'Twiggy' Forrest, has been locked in an ongoing legal battle with Yindjibarndi people for 17 years.
While Friday's hearing was in Brisbane, around 50 Traditional Owners were listening to the decision, from the Pilbara town of Roeburne.
Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation CEO Michael Woodley said he was glad the battle is finally over.

“The judges found no reason for this case to proceed to the high court and therefore the application by FMG has been refused," he said.

We are not going to put a price on this. Firstly, we will be getting a forensic analysis done on FMG's operation to date and see what that stacks up to be.

"If we are taking the Timber Creek standards of compensation, then its three bites of the cherry in what we can apply for."

"A rich man's poor ambition has come to an end."


Last year, FMG's appeal to a Federal Court to have the case heard was also dismissed. The five  Federal Court judges unanimously decided to uphold the Yindjibarndi people's exclusive rights to the land.

The Yindjibarndi have been fighting for this land since 2003, the latest decision is expected to lay a path to pursue a compensation claim for both economic loss and spiritual harm.

-with AAP

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