Rio Tinto's response
We refer to the request for our response to recent events concerning the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura (PKKP) people, our work with the PKKP people going forward and an explanation of how this incident occurred.
We are very sorry for the distress we have caused.[...]
The mining activity conducted in May 2020 was undertaken in accordance with all necessary approvals. It was preceded by a ministerial consent under Section 18 of the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972 (WA) (AHA). This was obtained in 2013 after detailed consultation with the PKKP people over a decade that included research investigations in 2008 under a Section 16 authorisation under the AHA. Following the Section 18 consent, extensive heritage preservation and salvage work was undertaken in 2014 - all with the PKKP people’s involvement. [...]
Our framework for agreement making with Traditional Owners includes working with host communities throughout the life of an agreement to ensure Traditional Owners receive fair compensation and a share of benefits in exchange for secure access to land. We are conducting a comprehensive review of our heritage processes and how they are applied in our Iron Ore business [...] We will engage with the PKKP people and other Traditional Owner groups as appropriate, through the review process. Our application of appropriate legislation will be examined as part of this review and we will provide input into any Western Australian government reform of the AHA. [...]