Another Aboriginal heritage site has been destroyed near a mine in Western Australia. This time around, a rockfall damaged a registered heritage site near one of BHP’s iron ore mines in the Pilbara, Western Australia.
WA Today reports that the incident was first identified as part of monitoring on January 29, but it’s still unclear what actually caused the destruction.
“This site is not part of current mining operations. The cause of the rock fall is not known,” BHP President Minerals Australia Edgar Basto said in a statement.
“The heritage site was first recorded in 2005 with the Traditional Owners of the land, the Banjima [people].
“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 [people] and with their support.”
Because the direct cause of the rockfall isn’t yet clear, the Traditional Owners have launched a joint investigation with BHP to get to the bottom of what happened.
“Banjima’s South Flank Heritage committee met with BHP executives on 11 February to clarify the initial report’s details and progress the investigation,” a spokesperson for the Banjima Native Title Aboriginal Corporation told The Australian Financial Review.
Aboriginal heritage sites in and around mining sites have been all too frequently destroyed in recent years.
Just last year, Rio Tinto blew up the 46,000-year-old Juukan Gorge in the very same region, which was one of the oldest Aboriginal heritage sites on the continent.
While the site damaged by the rockfall in January hasn’t been carbonated, it’s yet another example of Indigenous heritage in and around mining areas being being damaged.
It also comes months after some of the sacred birthing trees on Djab Wurrung Country were cut down to build a new highway.
Hopefully the Traditional Owners’ investigation can help make sure this kind of thing never happens again.