Aboriginal Environments Research Centre

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Rodger Barnes


Year Graduated: 

Photo of the landscape taken during Rodger Barnes' fieldwork.

Fieldwork site


In 2014, Rodger Barnes will be joining the Ethiopian Ministry of Mines on a 6 month assignment in Addis Ababa as a Monitoring and Evaluation Officer. The Ministry of Mines is responsible for the proper development of the minerals sector through generating national geoscience data and issuing licences for mineral and petroleum exploration.

Rodger's role will be based in the Planning, Evaluation and Monitoring Directorate. He is looking forward to working with Directorate staff to enhance capacity in monitoring and evaluation of their projects, including in areas such as policy assessment, preparation and writing of reports, and effective stakeholder communication.

Most recently Rodger worked as a casual Project Manager at the Centre for Social Responsibility in Mining (CSRM) at the University of Queensland in Brisbane. His previous work experience was with the Central Land Council in Alice Springs. As Manager Mining, he worked with Aboriginal landowners to manage mineral and petroleum development on Aboriginal land through effective consultations with traditional owners and negotiating agreements with explorers and miners.

Rodger is excited at the prospect of sharing his experience in an international context, particularly in a dynamic and emerging mineral resource setting such as Ethiopia.

Thesis Title: 
Building an Implementation Framework for Agreements with Aboriginal Landowners: A Case Study of The Granites Mine


Rodger's thesis addresses the issue of implementation of agreements between Aboriginal people and mining companies. The primary aim is to contribute to developing a framework for considering implementation of agreements by examining how outcomes vary according to the processes and techniques of implementation. The research explores some of the key factors affecting the outcomes of agreements through a single case study of The Granites Agreement between Newmont Mining Corporation and traditional Aboriginal landowners made under the Aboriginal Land Rights Act (NT) 1976. This is a fine-grained longitudinal study of the origins and operation of the mining agreement over a 26-year period from its inception in 1983 to 2011. The history of The Granites from the first European contact with Aboriginal people is compiled. This sets the study of the Agreement in the context of the continued adaption by Warlpiri people to European colonisation. A study of such depth and scope of a single mining agreement between Aboriginal people and miners has not previously been undertaken. The research on the origins and negotiations demonstrates the way the Agreement reconciled very disparate interests between Aboriginal people and the mining company. The Agreement served a range of purposes including consent of traditional owners to development of the mine on Aboriginal land and provision of benefits to Aboriginal stakeholders. Negotiations occurred at a time of strong political hostility to Aboriginal land rights. A range of political agendas intersected in the course of making the Agreement which created an extremely complex and challenging environment not only for negotiations but also for managing the agreement once it was signed. In terms of outcomes, the longevity of the mining operation, the lack of disputation, continued capital investment and corporate acquisitions of the mine were evidence of the security the Agreement provided to the mining company. Less certainty was found in relation to the beneficial outcomes for Aboriginal stakeholders. Two main areas were analysed, being Aboriginal employment and payments to Aboriginal stakeholders. In terms of long-term sustainable benefits for Aboriginal people the research found that achieving positive outcomes required highly committed and collaborative approaches to implementation. The research confirmed that a range of components identified in the literature needed to be in place, including strong corporate commitment and company leadership, positively articulated goals, effective organisational structures, and sufficient financial and human resources. The research also revealed that in addition to these components positive and effective working relationships between the parties were critical. At the centre of these relationships were highly committed personnel dedicated to achieving positive outcomes for Aboriginal stakeholders.