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4 Jun 2020

Gregg Borschmann, ABC News

Report reveals Rio Tinto knew the significance of 46,000-year-old rock caves six years before it blasted them

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5 June 2020

Mining giant Rio Tinto was alerted six years ago that at least one of the caves it blasted in Western Australia's Pilbara region last month was of "the highest archaeological significance in Australia".


Advice delivered to Rio Tinto and the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura (PKKP) Indigenous people of the region six years ago was never publicly released.


Rio Tinto seemed to be aware of the unique value of the site the year after they received the archaeological report and in 2015, the mining company funded a documentary called Ngurra Minarli, which means In Our Country.


...Chris Salisbury, chief executive of Rio Tinto iron ore described the destruction of the caves as a "misunderstanding".

He said the company was sorry for the "distress and anguish" of the PKKP people and took "full accountability".

"Something's gone terribly wrong here and we've committed to a comprehensive review of all of our heritage process and moreover committed to advocating for legislative change to prevent this sort of thing happening, should it be necessary," Mr Salisbury said.


Part of the following timelines

Australia: Rio Tinto mining blast destroys ancient Aboriginal sacred site

Australia: Extractive companies’ projects threaten to destroy Aboriginal heritage sites