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Victory for the aborigines: An Australian court on December 17 upheld an appeal by the country's indigenous inhabitants to halt the expansion of the McArthur River zinc mine by Switzerland-based Xstrata mining group. Aborigines from Australia's Northern Territory had appealed against the local government's approval of Xstrata's plan to divert the McArthur river to allow it to replace a depleted underground mine with an open pit mine. Indigenous groups and environmentalists are concerned potentially contaminated seepage from mining and milling would reach the 300-kilometre long river during the rainy season in the Northern Territory. The company has disputed the claims and will consider its options following the judgement.
Land rights upheld: Indigenous people across Brazil rejoiced after the Supreme Court upheld their land rights in a landmark case on December 10. The ruling concerned the indigenous territory Raposa-Serra do Sol in the Amazon state of Roraima, where a small group of powerful farmers wanted the indigenous people's land. They were supported by local politicians and had petitioned the apex court to overturn the Brazilian government's legal recognition of the territory.