A controversial gas mining trial in South Australia has been given the green light after a failed bid by the Adnyamathanha people in the Supreme Court of South Australia.
The Adnyamathanha Traditional Lands Association (ATLA) launched a challenge to the project earlier this month after Energy and Mining Minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan approved a three-month trial by Leigh Creek Energy.
Justice Sam Doyle decided not to issue an injunction for the Adnyamathanha people on Tuesday.
ATLA CEO Vince Coulthard told NITV News his people have always maintained they are against underground coal gasification, which was banned in Queensland in 2016.
During the consultation process, Mr Coulthard said the ATLA sent Aboriginal people out to the UCG site with Leigh Creek Energy, to teach them about the cultural significance of the area and why it should not be mined.
“We sent our people to go out there and show them and to teach them about the area and then they’ve come back and said that those teams gave them permission,” Mr Coulthard said.
“We kept driving that that area is important to us and it needs to be protected."
A Department of Energy and Mining spokesperson told NITV News the court found "no cultural heritage matters" which should prevent the commissioning of the project.
The department "undertook extensive consultation regarding Leigh Creek Energy’s proposed temporary pilot plant with a wide range of stakeholders" and that the pilot plant "has passed stringent environmental impact standards".
“If the two-to-three month trial proves feasible, then all investigations and consultation start again on any potential longer term operation,” the spokesperson said.
'Now they can't practice the law'
Mr Coulthard said the cultural significance of the site is the story of Yulu, the Kingfisher Man who came down from the North to Wilpena to run a ceremony.
"He stopped off at Leigh Creek to let people know he was coming and he lit a fire and the fire got away and burnt woodland forest and that coal was burning and is still burning today," Mr Coulthard said.
"That was the first ceremony and law, and people practiced that law and it is still the law of the land today.
"Now they can’t practice the law because there is mining on that country," he said.
"Yulu’s story needs healing."
Outside court, Traditional Owner Dwayne Coulthard told the ABC community members aren't going to stop fighting.
"We are so connected with our country that this isn't the end for us," he said.
Leigh Creek Energy's executive chairman Justyn Peters told the ABC his company had 'numerous' meetings with the board of the ATLA.
"They went through the consultation process with the department [and] we have made offers to work with them in the future," Mr Peters said.
"It's sad that it got to this point, but at least it confirms that the South Australian government went through a proper process with the licencing process, and with the consultation process,” he said.
The Supreme Court heard that Leigh Creek Energy loses around $50,000 per day for each day the project is delayed.
"In real outcomes that was going to cost us jobs," Mr Peters said.