Rio Tinto apologises for blowing up 46,000-year-old Aboriginal site
MELBOURNE, June 1 (Reuters) - Rio Tinto apologised for the destruction of a sacred Aboriginal cave in
Western Australia that showed evidence of continual habitation
dating back 46,000 years, and said it would urgently review its
plans for other sites in the area.
Rio Tinto blew up the cave last week in Juukan Gorge, about
1,075 km (667 miles) north of Perth, as part of an expansion
programme in the Pilbara iron ore region, provoking a local
outcry and calls for reform of heritage protection laws.
Explosives destroyed two ancient rock shelters, where
artefacts discovered included 4,000-year-old plaited human hair
with genetic links to the present day traditional owners, the
Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura (PKKP) people.
"That site, for us, that's where our ancestors were
occupying their traditional land," PKKP director Burchell Hayes
told Australian Broadcasting Corp, adding that the community
felt sorrow and sadness over the loss of heritage.
The mining giant, which had been granted state government
approval in 2013 to damage or destroy the site under a legal
framework that is currently under review, apologised on Sunday.
"We pay our respects to the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura
people, and we are sorry for the distress we have caused," Iron
Ore chief executive Chris Salisbury said in a statement.
The miner said that it had performed archaeological work in
2014 to preserve significant cultural heritage artefacts,
recovering approximately 7,000 objects.
Rio said that it would work with traditional owners to look
at its approach to preserving heritage.
"As a matter of urgency, we are reviewing the plans of all
other sites in the Juukan Gorge area," Salisbury said.
Federal Indigenous Affairs Minister Ken Wyatt last week
flagged a need to strengthen the protection of indigenous sites,
while his state counterpart said Western Australia was moving to
fix out-of-date legislation.
+613 9286 1421; Reuters Messaging:
(Reporting by Melanie Burton; editing by Richard Pullin)
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and may not reflect those of Kitco Metals Inc. The author has made every effort to ensure accuracy of information provided; however, neither Kitco Metals Inc. nor the author can guarantee such accuracy. This article is strictly for informational purposes only. It is not a solicitation to make any exchange in commodities, securities or other financial instruments. Kitco Metals Inc. and the author of this article do not accept culpability for losses and/ or damages arising from the use of this publication.