Aboriginal Environments Research Centre

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Mining and Indigenous Tourism in Northern Australia

The first of its kind undertaken, this study used a case study methodology to investigate the opportunities for using ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ mining project infrastructure to support the development of indigenous tourism operations in northern Australia.

Key study objectives were to:

  • Assess the potential to develop existing natural and indigenous cultural tourism resources in areas proximate to mining operations;
  • Identify how mining operations could support indigenous tourism ventures in these areas; and
  • Assess the willingness of mining companies and indigenous communities to cooperate in such initiatives.

The findings of the study will be of use to indigenous individuals and groups seeking to develop sustainable tourism opportunities, mining companies, policymakers and the tourism industry more generally. The study has also identified several issues requiring further research.

The case studies comprised the regions around: (a) Comalco’s Weipa bauxite mine on the western Cape York Peninsula of Queensland; (b) the Century mine in the southern Gulf of Carpentaria, north-west Queensland; and (c) the Argyle Diamond mine in Western Australia’s East Kimberleys. These sites were chosen on the grounds that the mines were located in or near areas with considerable tourism potential, a substantial indigenous population was living in these areas, and mine management was formally committed to supporting indigenous enterprise development.

Numerous mining operations in northern Australia are located in or near areas that have substantial tourism potential. Primary attractions are the natural environment (including national parks, World Heritage Areas, and wilderness areas), cultural heritage sites to assist with the development of sustainable tourism initiatives involving local indigenous people and landscapes, and the mines themselves, which are also significant drawcards in some cases. Aboriginal land and land management regimes, sites and cultural knowledge should all be considered potential tourism products.

  • To assist with the development of sustainable tourism initiatives involving local Indigenous people
  • To create sustainable economic and cultural opportunities for Indigenous groups
  • To determine if the study's findings would be useful for government tourism and Aboriginal enterprise policies
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Project Contacts
Partners & Funding Details
    Funding Body: 
  • The Sustainable Tourism Cooperative Research Centre