You are here

Home Activities CAIRNS 2019

On June 12 and 13, the MinErAL network's annual general meeting will be held in Cairns, Australia, traditional territory of the Yirrganydji people and the Gimuy Walubara Clan of the Yidinji people. The event, host by Sharon Harwood, from James Cook University, will be an occasion to learn about the history of the mining sector in Cairns, its economic relevance, as well as policies and practices to increase indigenous participation in the resources sector. The meeting will also pay special attention to the issues of consultation and consent of indigenous communities, negotiations between mining companies and indigenous communities, mining geographies and native title claim. Researchers and indigenous partners from Canada, Scandinavia, Australia and New Caledonia will be taking part in this event. The speakers will notably include Professor Ciaran O'Faircheallaigh, from Griffith University, Julia Taylor, from the North Queensland Land Council, as well as Melissa Sutton and Michael Limerik from the Queensland Resources Council. The meeting will close on the morning of June 14, with the MinErAL network’s General Assembly. You will find the meeting preliminary program below. Please note that it is a first version of the program: the time and the activities are subject to change. Follow us on Facebook to find out the event last updates!

To register or to have more information on the meeting, please contact Aude Therrien at or Sharon Harwood at

Speaker Overview

Sharon Harwood RPIA is a qualified and practicing regional and social planner, and currently lectures in Planning at James Cook University in Cairns, North Queensland (Australia).  She has more than 25 years’ experience working with remotely located communities on natural resource planning, community planning and development projects. In 2018, she was recognized Queensland Planner of the Year by the Planning Institute Australia. The Queensland Awards for Planning Excellence recognize and acknowledge quality, innovation and excellence in Planning.  Sharon is also the Convenor of the Tropical North Queensland branch of the PIA, a member of the state PIA Executive Committee and the Planning Education Committee.  Her planning experience in remote areas coupled with her research projects in remote communities has led her to believe that urban planning theory and practice is unsuitable for application in non-urban settings. Sharon is particularly interested in understanding how the design and function of land use planning systems meet the aspirations of First Nations peoples for social, economic and cultural development of their lands and waters.

Mel Sutton is a Partnership Facilitator for a resources industry-Queensland Government partnership to increase Indigenous participation in the resources sector.  She is engaged by the Queensland Resources Council to work with resource companies and a range of stakeholders and Indigenous communities to enhance strategies for Indigenous employment and training and Indigenous business development.  Prior to this role, Mel worked for more than ten years in a range of Indigenous and local government policy roles within the Queensland Government.  She also works as a consultant, specialising in social performance and Indigenous economic participation.


Dr Michael Limerick is the Partnership Facilitator for a resources industry-Queensland Government partnership to boost Indigenous participation in the resources sector.  He is engaged by the Queensland Resources Council to work with resource companies and a range of stakeholders and Indigenous communities to enhance strategies for Indigenous employment and training and Indigenous business development.  Prior to this role, Michael held a range of legal, policy and management positions during 13 years with the Queensland Government.  He also practices as a lawyer and consultant and has worked with many Traditional Owner groups in Queensland and Western Australian on governance capacity-building and social and economic development. 


Julia (Jules) Taylor is the Senior Legal Officer – Coordinator of North Queensland Land Council’s (NQLC) Future Acts, Mining and Exploration (FAME) Unit and over the past 10 years has been employed by NQLC, the Kimberley Land Council (KLC) and also as a consultant assisting in providing advice and support in relation to international best practice standards for negotiating co-existence agreements for people affected by mining. Jules’ primary focus at both NQLC and KLC has been has been in identifying, developing, negotiating and implementing projects as the lead legal officer across the broad areas of mining and exploration agreements and other negotiated agreements for Aboriginal heritage protection, together with large project negotiations on Indigenous Land Use Agreements (ILUAs) in relation to mining, exploration, petroleum exploration, land access agreements and land tenure reform and divestment projects. This has included the use of and otherwise providing comprehensive advice in relation to land tenure issues, rights under the Native Title Act and State legislation, benefits for Aboriginal people through negotiated agreements, and the affect various State and Commonwealth legislation can have on those rights.

Ciaran O’Faircheallaigh is Professor of Politics and Public Policy at Griffith University, Brisbane. He has previously held positions at the University of Papua New Guinea, the Australian National University and Queens University, Ontario. He has published numerous articles and books in the fields of public policy, policy evaluation and policy implementation, resource economics and resources policy, negotiation, impact assessment and indigenous studies. For over 20 years he has worked with indigenous organizations in Australia and Canada on social impact assessments and on negotiation of agreements with resource development companies, and has acted as an adviser or negotiator for many of Australia’s leading Aboriginal organizations, including the Cape York, Northern, Central, Yamatji and Kimberley Land Councils. He is currently managing indigenous impact assessments being conducted in relation to gas development in the Kimberley region of Western Australia, and advising the Autonomous Bougainville Government on options in relation to the possible reopening of the Bougainville copper mine.

Bill Cummings is one of Australia’s most experienced regional business economists. His family roots go back to the earliest development of the Cairns region including prospector discovery of mineral fields, tin miners, packers and saddlers before the railways were built. After an Economics Degree at the University of Queensland, he spent seven founding years in economics in Canberra including as an economic research officer for the Australian Chamber of Commerce. He returned north and spent 13 years managing promotion of development organisations in the North before setting up his own economic consultancy business in 1982. Since then, he has worked in almost all industry sectors across the North and into the PNG/Pacific area including major reviews of mining development in the region and economic impact studies as part of environmental impact assessments for mine developments.



Preliminary Program

Wednesday, June 12

9:00 AM Opening ceremony and Welcome to Country   
9:30 AM Presentation of the MinErAL Network and its Australian component

10:00 AM Coffee Break

10:30 AM Mining in Cairns, Australia   

Session chaired by Sharon Harwood

The importance of mining to Cairns' past, present and future economic development Bill Cummings, Principal at Cummings economics & compass research, Cairns, Australia
Mining in North Queensland: some historical background Janice Wegner, Senior lecturer, College of Arts, Society & Education, James Cook University
Aboriginal mining history in North Queensland Gallina (Kal) Ellwood, PhD candidate at James Cook University


12:00 PM Lunch   

1:30 PM Native Title Claim and Mining 

Session chaired by Chris Southcott

UNDRIP principles of FPIC and "the gap" with Native Title in Australia Julia (Jules) Taylor, Northern Queensland Land Council  
Explaining Outcomes from Native Title Agreements Ciaran O'Faircheallaigh, Professor,  School of Government and International Relations, Griffith University
The Queensland Resource Sector's Strategies to Boost Indigenous participation Melissa Sutton & Michael Limerick, Queensland Resources Council   
Negotiating the mining rules in New Caledonia Pierre-Yves Lemeur, Anthropologist, IRD, UMR GRED, Montpellier


3:30 PM Coffee Break

4:00 PM Negotiating across mining life cycles: IBAs, Consultation and Consent   

Session chaired by Dean Carson

TBC Thierry Rodon, Principal investigator of the MinErAL Network, Political science department, Laval University
The State, Business and Indigenous peoples: Comparing Negotiations for Mineral Extraction in Norway and Australia Catherine Howlett, Senior Lecturer, Gnibi College of Indigenous Knowledge, Lismore
TBC Réal McKenzie, Former Chief of the Innu Nation of Matimekush- Lac John
Making Resources Work for Arctic Communities: What have we learned from the Resources and Sustainable Development in the Arctic (RESDA) project Chris Southcott, Professor, Sociology, Lakehead University


6:00 PM Diner   

Thursday, June 13

9:00 AM Mining geographies   

Session chaired by Pierre-Yves Lemeur

Mining activity in rural areas: permanencies ruptures and social tranformations of livelihoods in New Caledonia Severine Bouard, researcher, Institut Agronomique Néo-Calédonien, Christine Demmer, CNRS Centre Norbert Elias, Mathilde Baritaud, student, Université de Bordeaux and Louise Decottigny, student, Université de la Sorbonne
TBC A representative of Koniambo Nickel SAS
The politics of Indigenous encounters with the mining life cycle – is it helpful to compare Australia and Sweden? Dean Carson, Visiting Professor, Arctic Research Centre, Umea University


10:30 AM Coffee Break   

11:00 AM Projects in development   

Session chaired by France Bailly (TBC)

Negotiating the Rules of the Game: The influence of Indigenous People on Mining Development in Quebec (Canada) and New Caledonia (France) Sabrina Bourgeois, PhD candidate at Laval University
Mining Activities, Health and Well-Being in Indigenous Communities Ella Myette, MA student and Melody Lynch, PhD candidate, McGill University
TBC Linus Lundström, Postdoctoral Fellow at Arctic Research Center at Umea University (ARCUM)
TBC Karen Bouchard, PhD candidate at Laval University
Interactions between International Trade and Investments Law and Indigenous Peoples' Rights in mining projects: preliminary results Zoé Boirin, PhD candidate at University of Ottawa


12:30 PM Lunch    

13:30 PM  Free afternoon   

Friday June 14

9:00 AM General Assembly of the MinErAL Network   

12:00 PM End of the conference and travel home   


                          Click here for a printable version of the meeting's preliminary program