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Aboriginal elder spurns million dollar offer from uranium miners

An elder from the Djok aboriginal community has hailed a move by the federal government to prevent the mining of uranium on his ancestral lands.

On Wednesday the federal government introduced a bill to incorporate 1228 hectares of the Koongarra, the traditional land of the Djok people, into the Kakadu National Park, thus preventing efforts by uranium mines to develop the area’s resources.

Jeffrey Lee, an elder of the Djok people, welcomed the decision after fighting for over three decades to prevent uranium extraction in the area, as well as spurning million dollar offers from miners.

“I have said no to uranium mining at Koongarra because I believe that the land and my cultural beliefs are more important than mining and money,” said Mr. Lee.

A French company reportedly offered Mr. Lee $5 million to withdrawn his opposition to uranium development plans.

Although Koongarra lies within the Kakadu area, a ruling in 1979 prevented its inclusion in the park, in order to leave open the possibility of development of its uranium resources, estimated to stand at around 14,000 tonnes.

Former Prime Minister Bob Hawke as well as Federal Environment Minister Tony Burke joined Mr. Lee to make the announcement as well as hail the government’s decision.