Native Title and Cultural Heritage

Negotiating important native title and cultural heritage agreements for major projects throughout Australia.

Services Experience People Publications

Native title and cultural heritage negotiations are an important aspect of public infrastructure and resources exploration projects. In order to successfully deliver large projects, it is necessary to first negotiate and reach agreement with the land’s native title holders.

Our native title and cultural heritage experts have a sophisticated understanding of the drivers and considerations necessary in cross-cultural negotiations. With a detailed understanding of the approvals process for major developments, we advise major public and private resources and infrastructure companies throughout Australia to develop a 'whole of project' strategy for dealing with native title, cultural heritage and legislative compliance issues.

The head of our Native Title and Cultural Heritage practice, Dr Jonathan Fulcher, is one of Australia’s leading native title and cultural heritage lawyers, as ranked by Chambers Global for the past eight consecutive years. Also on our team is a former Senior State Negotiator with Indigenous Services at the Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Management.

This wealth of experience means we offer a strong understanding of indigenous groups in Australia and of the people within those groups who need to be involved in order to successfully reach an agreement. We also have extensive experience liaising with the State Government, the National Native Title Tribunal and native title representative bodies. This experience is coupled with an in-depth understanding of the legislation that impacts on native title negotiations.

We have also acted pro bono for indigenous people in order to protect their rights and interests in relation to lands and waters, including Keith Kemp in his attempts to protect 'Saltwater' from development that was contrary to traditional laws and customs.

HopgoodGanim was named Native Title Law Firm of the Year in Australia in the Corporate Intl Magazine Legal Awards, 2012, was ranked as a leading Native Title firm in Chambers Asia-Pacific every year since 2013 and was ranked by a Leading Native Title Law Firm - Australia, 2016, by Doyles Guide to the Australian Legal Profession. Recently, one of our Partners was mentioned in the Australian Financial Review for Best Lawyers in Australia, 2018 and 2019 editions.  

Areas of Expertise

  • Land access 
  • Native title negotiations, mediations and agreements
  • Indigenous Land Use Agreements 
  • Right to Negotiate Agreements
  • Cultural Heritage Management Plans
  • Advising Armour Energy on successful native title negotiations for petroleum tenements in the Northern Territory, and current negotiations in Queensland and the Northern Territory.
  • Advising Pangaea Resources on all legal aspects of their native title negotiations across three states and territories in Australia (including with 10 native title groups in Western Australia alone), resulting in Pangaea being awarded preferred developer status for multiple exploration licences.
  • Advising SunWater on native title in relation to extinguishment by public works, giving it the ability to use most of its existing water infrastructure without further reference to native title, creating flexibility of tenure administration.
  • Advising Northern Energy Corporation on Right to Negotiate agreements throughout Queensland and New South Wales associated with their projects.
  • Advising Anglo American Metallurgical Coal, Australia’s fourth biggest producer of coal and its number two exporter of metallurgical coal, on land access and native title issues and agreements at multiple sites. 
  • Advising Bandanna Energy, which holds 16 exploration permits for coal in the Bowen and Galilee basins in Queensland, on its coal mine development and co-development agreements for exploration, including negotiating land access and providing advice on native title and compensation.
  • Advising oil and gas explorer and developer DrillSearch on agreements in relation to eight Authorities to Prospect affecting four indigenous groups in southwest Queensland.
  • Advising D’Aguilar Gold on the potential impact of native title issues on exploration tenements.
  • Advising Bow Energy on native title and cultural heritage due diligence, and native title agreement negotiation and drafting.
  • Advising Norton Gold Fields on native title and land access arrangements for its operations at Mount Morgan and at the Paddington Gold Mine in Western Australia.
  • Advising Monto Minerals on the cultural heritage issues affecting its Goondicun minerals development project. 
  • Advising AGL on its negotiations with the Wiradjuri people on the Central West pipeline in New South Wales. 
  • Advising Deutsche Rohstoff Australia on its strategy for negotiating native title agreements for its mining projects and negotiating on its behalf. 
  • Advising Queensland Ores on the native title issues associated with the grant of mining tenements for the Mt Cannindah minerals project in Queensland.
  • Advising the Office of the Registrar of Indigenous Corporations in relation to winding up an Indigenous corporation in Mt Isa, Queensland.
  • Advising Yallourn Energy on agreements with the Gunai Kurnai people over the grant of its mining licence in the Latrobe Valley.
  • Advising Curtain Brothers on an inquiry in the Native Title Tribunal for a future act determination, with our role including representing Curtain Brothers at a number of hearings.
  • Representing the State at numerous public meetings relating to native title claims and Indigenous Land Use Agreements.
  • Representing the State in the Federal Court of Australia and at National Native Title Tribunal mediation meetings in numerous native title matters.