Aborigines file first mine claim

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 03 July, 1993, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 03 July, 1993, 12:00am

COMALCO Aluminium of Australia has been formally served with an Aboriginal land claim for portions of its Weipa mining leases in Queensland, in what is thought to be the first such claim against an operating mine.

Comalco is the world's largest producer of bauxite, the most important ore of aluminium. The land claim covers 35,000 sq km of land on the west of Cape York peninsula in northern Australia.

Bauxite mined from Weipa accounts for 10 per cent of the West's bauxite production.

Comalco said yesterday its legal advisers were studying the documents lodged with the federal court and would vigorously defend the claim.

''The company is confident that its titles to the lease will be found to be valid,'' the company said.

''The whole of Comalco is based on the Weipa resource,'' said Chris Melloy, an analyst at J.B. Were & Co, Australia's largest independent stockbroker. ''I think this is the first time that such a claim has been made on an existing mining operation.'' Bloomberg