TOWNSVILLE, AAP – Traditional land owners in central Queensland have struck a native title project agreement with mining giant BHP in the hopes of securing longstanding intergenerational benefits to their people.

The Barada Barna Aboriginal Corporation (BBAC) and BHP Mitsui Coal (BMC) entered into the agreement for South Walker Creek mine, southwest of Mackay.

Stipulations of the agreement include benefits to the BBAC in the form of financial support for community projects, business, employment and education as well as cultural awareness training for all mine site employees.

BHP has also agreed to making the site accessible, protected and to hand it back to the land’s traditional owners at the end of the mine’s life.

Spanning a 63 year period, the agreement is the first of its kind between BBAC and BMC and seeks to cement longstanding socio-economic benefits for the region and its people.

“The agreement will not only have long term benefits for our people and community, it will also achieve projects that BBAC have had in the pipeline for a considerable amount of time,” chair Luarna Walsh said.

“It will ensure BBAC is sustainable into the future and help our next generation of descendants achieve their goals through schooling and university, and employment and training.

“This agreement also provides BBAC with the ability to diversify our income streams by creating Traditional Owner business’ that can tender for a variety of contracts on country.”

BMC Asset President Elsabe Muller says an agreement has been in the pipeline for 18 months and was built on listening, respect and the growth of trust between each group.

“The agreement recognises the Barada Barna peoples’ sacred connection to this land and the surrounding waterways, and it outlines a path forward for a relationship based on trust, respect and mutual benefit,” she said.

“We’re looking forward to continue working with the Barada Barna people and delivering for their communities with sustainable benefit to their economic, social and cultural wellbeing.”

BMC added that a signing ceremony will take place at Bidgerley (Pink Lily Lagoon) as soon as is safe to do so.