23/02/2021 - 14:30

BHP, BNTAC investigate heritage issue

23/02/2021 - 14:30

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BHP and traditional owners are investigating a rockfall at a heritage site near Mining Area C, although the cause is unclear.

BHP, BNTAC investigate heritage issue
Iron ore is a huge industry for the Pilbara.

BHP and traditional owners are investigating a rockfall at a heritage site near Mining Area C, although the cause is unclear.

Business News understands the site in question is more than 100 metres away from mining activity and the rockfall may have happened naturally.

Workers undertaking heritage analysis discovered the problem in January, where a few metres of rock had fallen at the entrance to the site, and notified the local Banjima Native Title Aboriginal Corporation.

Today, BNTAC confirmed there had been a heritage issue.

“In late January 2021, BHP submitted a report to Banjima Native Title Aboriginal Corporation outlining rockfall impact to a registered Banjima site, located within BHP’s Mining Area C,” a spokesperson said. 

“Following the initial report, Banjima’s newly established South Flank Heritage Advisory Council, together with BNTAC and BHP, launched an investigation into the cause of the rockfall. 

“Banjima’s South Flank Heritage committee met with BHP executives on February 11 to clarify the initial report’s details and progress the investigation.”

BHP said the rock fall was at a site which was not part of current mining operations and the cause was unknown.

“The heritage site was first recorded in 2005 with the traditional owners of the land, the Banjima,” BHP president minerals Australia Edgar Basto said.

“The site does not contain rock art or archaeological deposits, and could not be dated. Section 18 approval was subsequently obtained following consultation with the Banjima and with their support.

“We notified the Banjima traditional owners of the rock fall, and I and Western Australia iron ore president, Brandon Craig, subsequently met with Banjima elders as part of the Banjima Heritage Advisory Council, and agreed to a joint investigation with the Banjima to determine the cause of the rock fall. 

“We are committed to learning from the outcomes of the joint investigation.”

Last year, Rio Tinto faced ire for destroying the Juukan Gorge rock cave in the Pilbara, which was blown up for a mine expansion.

At least three senior Rio executives have since left the business.

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