A registered Aboriginal website has been broken at one in every of BHP’s iron ore mines within the Pilbara lower than eight months after the mining large promised not to disturb any websites within the space with out “additional deep session” with the Banjima conventional house owners.
The location, a culturally vital rock shelter, was reportedly broken by a rockfall in late January. It’s one in every of a number of Banjima websites positioned in and round BHP’s mining space C close to its $four.5bn South Flank iron ore mining operation.
BHP mentioned the heritage website was not a part of its present mining operations and the reason for the rockfall was not recognized. The location was first recorded in 2005.
The Banjima native title Aboriginal company (BNTAC) mentioned BHP wrote to them in late January to say there had been a “rockfall affect” to the location.
In July final yr, BHP vowed to not harm 40 Aboriginal heritage sites which it had acquired ministerial permission to destroy, with out “additional intensive session” with conventional house owners. The pledge got here after Guardian Australia revealed conventional house owners had been legally prevented from talking publicly concerning the websites.
BHP was given ministerial consent to destroy them underneath Western Australia’s outdated Aboriginal heritage legal guidelines on 29 March, three days after Rio Tinto blew up a 46,000-year-old Aboriginal website at Juukan Gorge, triggering worldwide condemnation.
“We won’t disturb the websites recognized with out additional intensive session with the Banjima folks,” a BHP spokesman mentioned on the time. “That session will likely be based mostly on our dedication to understanding the cultural significance of the area and on the deep respect we’ve got for the Banjima folks and their heritage.”
BHP additionally introduced it might set up a heritage advisory council in partnership with BNTAC.
It’s this newly established South Flank Heritage Advisory Council that’s now investigating what precipitated the harm to the rock shelter.
The council met with BHP executives on 11 February, a BNTAC spokesman mentioned, to “make clear the preliminary report’s particulars and progress the investigation”. The investigation is ongoing.
BHP’s president of minerals in Australia, Edgar Basto, mentioned he and Western Australia iron ore boss Brandon Craig had met with the Banjima and had been “dedicated to studying from the outcomes of the joint investigation”.
“The relationships we maintain with the standard custodians of the land on which we function are critically essential to BHP,” Basto mentioned.
“Over a few years, we’ve got constructed a powerful relationship with the Banjima folks based mostly on deep respect for his or her heritage and their connection to nation. This consists of the institution of the Banjima Heritage Advisory Council final yr. We are going to proceed to work with the Banjima in a spirit of respect and cooperation.”