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Bakaru Wayaparrangu

‘in the middle, we all meet’

Mining Agreement between DJAARA and Agnico Eagle Mines Ltd

DJAARA (Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation) has negotiated a historic agreement with the operator of the Fosterville Gold Mine, Canadian miner Agnico Eagle. The agreement is called Bakaru Wayaparrangu, meaning ‘in the middle, we all meet’ in Dja Dja Wurrung language.

The process of colonisation continues to curtail Dja Dja Wurrung People’s opportunities to manage Country. Incrementally, we must find ways to speak for and heal Djandak (Dja Dja Wurrung Country) through decision-making opportunities, partnerships, and agreements. This is one such agreement.

Bakaru Wayaparrangu will ensure that Dja Dja Wurrung People are compensated for some of the impact and receive some of the benefit from mining activity that is currently occurring on Djandak. DJAARA will receive a share of the wealth generated by the mine. This income will be used for the benefit of DJAARA Members.

The development of Bakaru Wayaparrangu has been a 7-year process. The time has been taken to appropriately recognise the continued impact of mining on Djandak and on Dja Dja Wurrung People; and to acknowledge that, as Traditional Owners of the land on which the mine is operating, Dja Dja Wurrung People should receive some benefit from the mining activity.

What is the Bakaru Wayaparrangu Agreement?

The agreement between Agnico Eagle and DJAARA is a long-term Benefit Sharing Agreement. Common in industry, Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) agreements provide Traditional Owners a means of participating in economic development from their resources held in Country.

Broadly, the objective of ABS is to ensure fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising from the use of resources. Bakaru Wayaparrangu serves to provide a legal framework through which Agnico Eagle shares benefits with DJAARA from the extraction of minerals deep in Djandak, Country which has been cared for by Dja Dja Wurrung People for tens of thousands of years.

In 2017, an agreement was discussed between DJAARA and Fosterville Gold Mine, the previous owner of the Forestville Mine. This arose through exercising DJAARA’s rights under its 2013 Recognition and Settlement Agreement (RSA) and the associated Land Use Activity Agreement (LUAA) in response to works associated with underground operations on Crown land.

A key understanding which underpinned negotiations between current mine operator Agnico Eagle and DJAARA was that both parties understood that the wealth created from the resources of Djandak should be applied to address Dja Dja Wurrung People’s economic and social disadvantage.

On 13 May 2024, the Bakaru Wayaparrangu Agreement was signed, providing a bundle of benefits for DJAARA, its members and the broader Central Victorian community.

What does Bakaru Wayaparrangu mean?

The agreement is called Bakaru Wayaparrangu, which means ‘in the middle, we all meet’ in Dja Dja Wurrung language. 

It is pronounced Buck-a-ru Waya-pa-rrung-u.

We are making sure our language, Dja Dja Wurrung language, is increasingly spoken. We share it in song and ensure it is placed lovingly back to Djandak, where it belongs, by us.

Click here to hear Bakaru Wayaparrangu spoken.

Who is the Agreement between?

Bakaru Wayaparrangu is an agreement between Agnico Eagle, as the operator of the Fosterville Gold Mine, and DJAARA, the representative body for Dja Dja Wurrung People, the Traditional Owners of the Country in which the mine operates.

Agnico Eagle is a senior Canadian gold mining company, producing precious metals from operations in Canada, Australia, Finland and Mexico. It has a pipeline of high-quality exploration and development projects in these countries as well as in the United States and Colombia. Agnico Eagle is a partner of choice within the mining industry, recognized globally for its leading environmental, social and governance practices.

The Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation is a representative body for Dja Dja Wurrung People. We pay respect to our People and trade as ‘DJAARA – Balaki Wuka (Giving to community)’. Dja Dja Wurrung People will always be the foundation of the Dja Dja Wurrung Clans Aboriginal Corporation.

In 2008, through the Corporation, Dja Dja Wurrung People gained Registered Aboriginal Party status which recognised our connection to Country and the right to protect and preserve Cultural Heritage on Djandak.

Then, after 15 years of intensive negotiations, the Dja Dja Wurrung People and the Victorian Government signed the Recognition and Settlement Agreement (RSA) on 28 March 2013. The RSA legally recognises Dja Dja Wurrung People as the Traditional Owners in Central Victoria and identifies some of their rights in law.

Crucially, the RSA gives miners and the State certainty about who speaks for, and can make binding decisions about, Djandak and activities that affect Traditional Owners’ rights.

What is DJAARA’s role in the mine?

DJAARA has no ownership of the Forestville Gold Mine or its operator Agnico Eagle.

The process of colonisation continues to curtail Dja Dja Wurrung People’s opportunities to manage Country. Incrementally, we must find ways to speak for and heal Djandak through decision-making opportunities, partnerships and agreements. This is one such agreement.

Opportunities for nation building and economic development of Dja Dja Wurrung People is an important contribution to the success of the agreement but, at the end of the day, it is about measuring and influencing the environmental impact of the mine.

DJAARA will have access to environmental information about the Fosterville Gold Mine operations and the opportunity to monitor and challenge environmental management.

What will happen when the mine closes?

A key benefit for DJAARA in Bakaru Wayaparrangu is its role in influencing the environmental impact of the mine. This role will not stop but in fact increase as the life of the mine comes to end and remediation works increase.

Through Bakaru Wayaparrangu, we are able to inform the site remediation process to take into account DJAARA’s knowledge of what the Country needs.

What benefits will the Agreement bring to Central Victoria?

In May 2024, the Hon. Lily D’Ambrosio acknowledged to the Yoorrook Justice Commission that Traditional Owners had not benefited from nearly 200 years of minerals extraction.

The extraction of over 80,000,000 ounces gold in Victoria, total value of which in today’s terms, is $287.4 billion, largely passed Dja Dja Wurrung People by. It has been used by others to create the new colony and, more recently, benefited overseas investors.

For the first time, the profits of some of the gold extracted from Central Victoria are returning to assist Dja Dja Wurrung People.

DJAARA is leading economic growth in Central Victoria through the signing of Bakaru Wayaparrangu. The multi-million agreement represents a significant injection of cash into the Central Victorian economy. Local application of that revenue could lead to hundreds of local jobs and boost economic development in the region.

Bakaru Wayaparrangu is a means for resources extracted from Djandak to support all who live on and care for Djandak.

What benefits will the Agreement bring to Dja Dja Wurrung People?

Dja Dja Wurrung People have not had the means to provide consent to mining but now have an opportunity to support their own community through agreement making.

Bakaru Wayaparrangu will enable significant capacity building for DJAARA. The agreement outcomes include:

  • an initial payment recognising the Dja Dja Wurrung People as the Traditional Owners of the mined land – what we consider “rent”
  • a portion of revenue annually
  • employment, training and business outcomes
  • DJAARA participation in environmental monitoring.

Also notable in the agreement is that DJAARA retains the right to negotiate the terms on which new mining operations on Djandak can proceed.

DJAARA has a responsibility to meet its Members’ reasonable expectations to ensure that Dja Dja Wurrung families and individuals are happy, healthy and secure. It is important to personal and community wellbeing that Dja Dja Wurrung People can participate in Australia’s rich social and economic life on an equal basis with all others we host on Country.

The employment, business and broader economic development opportunities provided through Bakaru Wayaparrangu will enable us to provide a range of services and support to Dja Dja Wurrung People, so that we can:

  • provide safe and adequate housing for our members
  • maintain and revive our language and cultural practices, and protect our cultural and intellectual property
  • support our members into employment and business opportunities
  • take active steps to make a material difference in our members’ lives and well-being.