The project is located at the western edge of the Great Sandy Desert in the East Pilbara region of Australia . Uranium was first discovered in the area by Rio Tinto Exploration in 1985, where the company found another eight deposits at Kintyre.
In 2008, Cameco Corporation and Mitsubishi Corporation entered into a joint 70/30 venture with Cameco owning 70% of the business . The companies bought the mine for $450,000,000 on condition that the Western Australian government approve the sale as well as ensuring an agreement is made with the Martu Traditional Owners . Operation of the mine was envisaged by 2015 once feasibility studies, and mine construction was completed . The Kintyre uranium mine is situated on the 136,000 square kilometres of traditional land which the Martu people have native title rights to the land .
In 2012, Cameco signed an Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA) with the Martu people, which, according to the Cameco website, took three years of "relationship building" with the Martu people to come to this agreement. This was due to the complicated legal nature of the Native Title Act which made the decision possible, and forces Indigenous Australians to nominate a corporate body to represent them legally. In this case, the Martu people nominated the Western Deserts Land Aboriginal Corporation (WDLAC) and in 2012, WDLAC gave up some of the Martu Traditional Owners land for mining purposes, resulting in the ILUA [2,6].
In 2015, the Western Australia environment minister Albert Jacob gave the green light to operation of Kintyre mine, despite Martu Traditional Owners opposition to it. A Martu community member quoted "the Martu people do not want this uranium mine. Everybody has said no" .
The project has also been condemned by environmentalists who are concerned about the mines' location in Karlamilyi National Park, and the high levels of radioactivity uranium mining can produce. Western Australia (WA) Conservation Council's Mia Pepper says "radiation is so mobile in our environment when we start mining it, you know, it becomes hugely dangerous, and I don't know of anywhere where they can safely mine uranium" . The mine site is located close to water holes, salt lakes and rivers which could all be at risk .
In 2016, members of the Martu community located in Western Australia's Pilbara region staged a walking protest, where they embarked on a week-long march to protest against the Kintyre mine, walking 110 kms to the site. Indigenous leaders who are located in surrounding communities within the Karlamilyi National Park are concerned about the threat mining activities could have on their water supply, and the potential threat to flora and fauna in the Karlamilyi National Park .
A Martu Elder, expresses her concern over the mine saying "It's (the mine) too close to where we live, it's going to contaminate our waterways, we've got our biggest river that runs right past our community". Opposition to mining activities in the area around Kintyre mine has been ongoing since the late 80s and early 90s when Rio Tinto Exploration were drilling and exploring the area, according to a filmmaker and a Martu member [1,5].
Furthermore, nine artists who are members of the Parnngurr community, showed their opposition to the mine by creating artwork representing the communities' land. This artwork was sold in 2014 to the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sydney, and for the purposes of raising money for the campaign against the mine, the WA Nuclear Free Alliance sold print versions of the artwork .
There are currently no plans for work to go ahead at the Kintyre mine according to the Cameco website. They state that further progress towards development decisions will not go ahead until market conditions for uranium improve .