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Man Rejects US$5 Billion (read: must-read for people behind the Oil Survey)

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Jeffrey Lee is not interested in the soaring price of uranium, which could make him one of the world's richest men.

"This is my country. Look, it's beautiful and I fear somebody will disturb it," he says, waving his arm across a view of rocky land surrounded by Kakadu National Park, where the French energy giant Areva wants to extract 14,000 tonnes of uranium worth more than $5 billion.

Mr Lee, the shy 36-year-old sole member of the Djok clan and the senior custodian of the Koongarra uranium deposit, has decided never to allow the ecologically sensitive land to be mined.

"There are sacred sites, there are burial sites and there are other special places out there which are my responsibility to look after," Mr Lee told the Herald.

"I'm not interested in white people offering me this or that … it doesn't mean a thing.

"I'm not interested in money. I've got a job; I can buy tucker; I can go fishing and hunting. That's all that matters to me."

Mr Lee said he thought long and hard about speaking publicly for the first time about why he wants to see the land incorporated into the World Heritage-listed national park, where, he said, "it will be protected and safe forever".

The Koongarra deposit is only three kilometres from Nourlangie Rock, one of the most visited attractions in Kakadu.

"There's been a lot of pressure on me, and for a very long time I didn't want to talk or think about Koongarra," Mr Lee said.

"But now I want to talk about what I have decided to do because I fear for my country.

"I was taken all through here on the shoulder of my grandmother … I heard all the stories and learnt everything about this land, and I want to pass it all on to my kids."

This week Mr Lee took the Herald to a rocky outcrop overlooking the Koongarra deposit, a sacred place where, according to his clan's beliefs, a giant blue-tongue lizard still lurks and should not be disturbed.

Here it is, painted on a rock hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of years ago, its jaw apparently bitten off in a mystical fight.

This is what Mr Lee calls a djang, or place of spiritual essence, which he has closed to the 230,000 tourists who visit Kakadu each year.

"My father and grandfather said they would agree to opening the land to mining, but I have learnt as I have grown up that there's poison in the ground," he said.

"My father and grandfather were offered cars, houses and many other things, but nobody told them about uranium and what it can do.

This story appears in The Sydney Morning Herald

Romans 10:9
"That if you shall confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you shall be saved."


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