Jabiru

Published: 11 August 2017

Jabiru

A Northern Australian mining town might no longer exist in four years.

Jabiru welcome sign
© 2017 The Project

Jabiru is a small town located in Northern Australia and is home to eleven-hundred people, and attracts 150-thousand tourists annually. It has a health clinic, a school, courthouse, fire station, supermarket, airstrip and a 110-room hotel. But sadly, in just four years, the whole town is scheduled to be entirely bulldozed.

It was custom-built to support the giant Ranger uranium mine in 1981, but now the mine is closing and the mining company is legally obliged to bulldoze the town as part of its rehab of the land back to Kakadu national park.

No one wants the town to go, but the mining company ERA is legally required to rehabilitate the mine site and the town when they leave, according to the terms of their lease.

Ken Adams, who manages Jabiru’s Foodland supermarket, said, “no one wants to spend any money [on store upgrades], because you don’t know if it’s going to be demolished…”

The uncertainty in Jabiru’s future has already started taking its toll. The local café and hairdresser have closed down, as well as the bakery, after the owner couldn’t sell it.

To make matters worse, Jabiru’s power and water will be shut off by the mining company when they leave.

The Mirarr people are the traditional owners of the land and have proposed plans for a fresh new town by working with a Melbourne architecture firm.

Justin O’Brien, who’s the CEO of the Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation, which represents Mirarr people, said the quickest way to stop the bulldozing is to “negotiate a new tenure arrangement, which is an Aboriginal township lease.”

He said, “We need everyone to help us negotiate this right now.”

But if things don’t get resolved soon, the entire town could be wiped out.