AACo Makes Deal with Indigenous People

AUSTRALIA - The Australian Agricultural Company Limited (AAco) today announced a historic Heads of Agreement with the Bunuba Cattle Company Pty Ltd (BCC) - a cattle operations company which is owned by the Bunuba people.
calendar icon 18 July 2012
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The Bunuba people are the traditional owners of land in the Kimberley region of Western Australia, which includes Leopold Station and Fairfield Station, over which Bunuba holds pastoral leases.

The Heads of Agreement is non-binding and implementation of the proposal is subject to the satisfaction of a number of conditions precedent, completion of due diligence, Board approvals, receipt of required Ministerial, regulatory and financier approvals and the formalisation of binding lease, cattle and asset sale documentation.

Under the proposed arrangement, AAco will have management control over the stations’ herd operations as well as marketing and procurement of cattle. Bunuba will receive an annual rent under the sub-leases that includes a component of profit from the AAco cattle operations. The parties have agreed to negotiate with each other on an exclusive basis with respect to the implementation of the proposal for a period of 3 months from the date of the Heads of Agreement.

David Farley, AAco Managing Director, said the Heads of Agreement was a significant move as it provides an opportunity to extend the company’s footprint into Western Australia, and involves working with traditional owners of the land for mutual benefit.

“AAco intends to work with BCC to establish micro businesses to provide services to our Company, such as rangeland and station operations, fencing and mustering contracting,” Mr Farley said.

“AAco intends to work with the local community to enhance existing training and development programs focused on real jobs that are available locally and in our business, and utilise the traditional owners and indigenous ranger services for environmental, rangelands monitoring and management.”

The traditional owners will continue to have access to their country through a land sharing agreement for sacred and other important initiatives such as Bunuba community living areas, and the newly established private upper secondary school - the Yiramalay Wesley studio school.

June Oscar, BCC Chairperson, said the venture will provide Bunuba with an opportunity to grow its current business professionally and provide employment and micro-business opportunities for the future. “We envisage our affiliation will be the foundation of sustainable Aboriginal economic development for many Aboriginal owned pastoral operations in the Kimberley,” she said.

AAco currently partners with a number of indigenous community groups within the Northern Territory.

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