Signed on 23 April 2006, the Dambimangarri – Aztec Resources agreement set a benchmark for the Kimberley by delivering a range of benefits to Dambimangardi Traditional Owners and other Indigenous people of the region, through employment and training
The agreement also supports the establishment of a Traditional Owner capital base, which will allow Traditional Owners to manage and develop their own futures. The agreement includes employment of cultural and heritage officers, the protection of significant sites, and involvement in environmental and land management issues.
The Dambimangardi people, together with people from the adjacent Wanjina Wunggurr Wilinggin and Wanjina Wunggurr Uunguu groups, share a single distinctive body of law and customs based on the belief systems of the Wanjina and the Wunggurr. The Wanjina and Gwion Gwion (sometimes called Bradshaw) rock paintings throughout the region are part of this system, which governs the relationships of people to country and to each other.
The Wanjina paintings are said to be the ancestors of the living people. Although at times displaced from their traditional lands, Dambimangardi people continue to renew the Wanjina spirit through artworks produced for themselves and for the wider world
(such as the Wanjina image created by Dambimangardi elder Donny Woolagoodja for the 2000 Sydney Olympics). There are more then two hundred people in the Dambimangardi community.
Many were displaced from their Traditional lands to Derby and nearby Mowanjum in the early parts of last century, yet have maintained strong links to their traditional country and practices.
Aztec proposed re-commencing mining operations on Koolan Island, and approached the KLC in March 2005. The KLC and the Dambimangardi formed a Negotiating Committee to engage with Aztec. TOs authorised the agreement in March 2006.
Among other things, the Agreement provides monetary payments and shares to the TO’s Charitable Trust, funds for TO administration staff and employment and training officers, employment for TOs (including two positions for Cultural and Heritage Officers and Trainees), protection of significant sites, and involvement of TOs in environmental decisions. Aztec will build a training centre on the island (which TOs will have access to), and a jetty and mooring buoys for TOs. Aztec will report to the Derby community and then the Dambimangardi on Koolan Island operations and progress.
Aztec operations are confined to a specific area, and the agreement includes strict rules about looking after significant sites, with Aztec accepting the Dambimangardi’s final word on these matters. Aztec will pay Dambimangardi people to run cultural awareness courses for people who are at the mine for more than 2 weeks, and will employ two Dambimangardi people as Cultural Heritage Rangers to make sure Koolan Island is looked after. TOs acknowledge the impact of the mine. Aztec will follow strict rules to look after the environment, and will include TOs in decisions affecting the environment, and in the mine closure plan. Aztec will also
provide funds to TOs to engage an environmental consultant during each year of the mine life.
Jobs and Economic Development
The agreement provides specific goals for indigenous employment – increasing over time to up to 30% of the work force. Aztec will provide a ‘lifeskills’ course for 8-10 people per year for the life of the mine, and will ensure that the workplace is culturally appropriate for TOs.
The agreement provides specific contracting benefits for TOs, including preference for TO businesses, advance notice of contracts, and direct contract offers in specific areas. The rules of the Agreement will also apply to sub-contractors, and TOs will have a role in reviewing contractors’ performance. Dambimangardi will have the option to purchase buildings for a nominal fee when the mine is closed.