Arnhem Land is Aboriginal freehold land held by the Arnhem Land Aboriginal Land Trust, represented by the Northern Land Council. Access onto Aboriginal land requires a permit from the Northern Land Council. Permits are generally easy to obtain with sufficient notice.
Nhulunbuy, the refinery and bauxite mining operation are largely located on leases between the Northern Territory Government and Rio Tinto, including a Special Mineral Lease and a number of Special Purposes Leases. These leases expire in the year 2053.
Rio Tinto Alcan manages the township of Nhulunbuy, including providing town services and operating and maintaining town infrastructure, through the Nhulunbuy Corporation Limited. The Nhulunbuy Corporation manages all building and development approvals within the township, and is committed to facilitating new and expanded activity in Nhulunbuy.
Dhimurru Aboriginal Corporation manages a suite of recreation areas within its Indigenous Protected Area on behalf of the Northern Land Council around the township of Nhulunbuy. These areas can be accessed once a permit has been purchased via the Dhimurru website or at the office during business hours.
For new proposals that require the use of Aboriginal land, the Northern Land Council has a critical role in consulting with traditional Aboriginal owners and facilitating the decision-making process. Representatives are available to discuss lease and access proposals, including terms and costs, with potential investors. These discussions and negotiations are private and normally commercial in confidence. The Northern Land Council has an office in Nhulunbuy.
The Northern Territory Planning Scheme applies to the whole Territory. The application of development assessment processes depends on whether:
- The land is zoned
- A subdivision of land is required (including where the length of an intended lease, licence or other right to occupy or use of the land exceeds 12 years)
- More than 1 hectare of native vegetation is to be cleared.
The Northern Territory Government is committed to streamlining development processes, and has established a Development One-Stop-Shop to facilitate this. For all developments outside of Nhulunbuy, investors can draft, lodge and track the progress of an application completely online. Landowner authorisation is required to lodge an application.