Aboriginal Heritage Site at BHP South Flank Iron Ore Mine Damaged
ABC reported that Australian Mining giant BHP has reported damage to a culturally significant site near South Flank mine in Pilbara region. The rock shelter, a registered heritage site on Banjima country, was disrupted by a rockfall which was identified by BHP at its Mining Area C operations in late January. BHP President for Minerals Australia Mr Edgar Basto said the company discovered fallen rocks near its mining operations on Banyjima land in January, but it is unclear whether mining caused the damage. Mr Basto said “On 29 January 2021, as part of monitoring in the Pilbara region of Western Australia, we identified a rock fall at a registered Banyjima site. This site is not part of current mining operations and the cause of the rock fall is not known.”
A Banyjima Native Title Aboriginal spokesperson said traditional owners were working with BHP to investigate the incident. They said “Banyjima’s South Flank Heritage Committee met with BHP executives on 11 February to process the investigation.”
The heritage site was first recorded in 2005 with the Traditional Owners of the land, the Banjima. The site does not contain rock art or archaeological deposits, and could not be dated.
Fellow mining giant Rio Tinto faced global condemnation last year after blowing up the 46,000 year old Juukan Gorge rock shelters in the Pilbara to extract AUD 188 million worth of high-grade iron ore. The incident devastated the Traditional Owners, the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura people, and prompted enormous investor backlash, a scathing parliamentary inquiry and the resignation of Rio's CEO and two other executives.