BHP angers Aboriginal group
BHP Billiton has angered traditional landowners in the Pilbara by selling a pastoral lease to the owner and operator of the Dampier-to-Bunbury natural gas pipeline.
The Buurabalayji Thalanyji Aboriginal Corporation said it had wanted to buy Urala Station on the coast near Onslow to produce cattle and create employment and training opportunities for more than 30 people.
BTAC chairman Matthew Slack said traditional owners had been shut out of the sale despite BHP Petroleum being aware of their long-standing ambition to use Urala for pastoralism.
BHP sold the station and associated lease to DBP Development Group in a deal believed to be worth $2.1 million.
Mr Slack said the State Government approved the sale in April, but BHP did not notify the BTAC until last month.
“It was our understanding BHP would give Thalanyji the first right of refusal, the opportunity to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to an offer to purchase,” he said.
BHP said the company had enjoyed a good working relationship with the Thalanyji people and hoped it would continue.