The Olympic Dam Agreement (ODA) is an agreement between BHP Billiton, the Kuyani People, the Kokatha People and the Barngarla People. The ODA is for the expansion of the Olympic Dam mine at Roxby Downs in South Australia. Olympic Dam is the fourth largest Copper deposit and the single largest Uranium deposit presently discovered in the world.

Under Australian law, traditional aboriginal owners are conferred various rights over portions of Australian land. These rights, which can either be native title or heritage based, allow for Aboriginal peoples to negotiate with miners for various benefits, as part of any mining operation.

Given the size of the Olympic Dam resource, negotiating and implementing the ODA was exceptionally complex. The ODA covers a full spectrum of issues including: the conducting of complete anthropological and archaeological work throughout the site, approving the required aboriginal heritage approvals and registering the necessary Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA), determining a protocol for employment and business development and the establishment and management of a charitable trust for royalty payments to the traditional aboriginal owners. 

The ODA is the largest agreement of its type ever entered into in South Australia, with an estimated value of above AUD$800M over the life of the mine. This would also make the ODA one of the largest agreements of its type, ever entered into throughout all of Australia. 

Since its implementation, a large amount of the benefits have been used to provide scholarships and employment to South Australia’s Kuyani, Barngarla and Kokatha aboriginal people.

The ODA has set the new benchmark in relations between fortune five hundred mining companies, and the world’s indigenous people. Although much of the ODA presently remains confidential, it is hoped to be a future template for conducting similar negotiations in the future. 

Nick Llewellyn-Jones, Partner of Norman Waterhouse, was instrumental in acting for the Aboriginal Kuyani People to finalise the ODA between 2007 and 2012.