Mining giant BHP reported damage to a culturally important site in the iron-rich Pilbara region of Western Australia, months after Rio Tinto drew international criticism for destroying old rock shelters in Juukan Gorge.
BHP Chairman for Minerals Australia, Edgar Basto, said the company discovered fallen rocks near its mining operations on Banyjima lands in January, but said it was not clear whether the mining mining had caused the damage.
“On January 29, 2021, as part of the surveillance in the Pilbara region of Western Australia, we identified a rock fall at a registered site in Banyjima,” Basto said.
“This site is not part of current mining operations – the cause of the rockfall is not known.”
“On January 29, 2021… we identified a rockfall at a registered site in Banyjima. This site is not part of current mining operations – the cause of the rockfall is not known.
BHP Reports Damage to Pilbara Iron Ore Mine Indigenous Heritage Site https://t.co/YMr8jNDdyX
– Indigenous TBEN (@ABCIndigenous) February 23, 2021
The damage was located near the $ 4 billion South Flank mine site, about 130 kilometers northwest of Newman in northern WA.
An indigenous spokesperson for Banyjima Native Title said the traditional owners were working with BHP to investigate the incident.
“The Banyjima Southern Flank Heritage Committee met with BHP leadership on February 11 to investigate,” they said.
A BHP media spokesperson said the incident was different from Rio Tinto’s Juukan Gorge explosion, which drew international condemnation when it destroyed the site in May 2020.
The spokesperson said the damage was reported quickly and was not intentional.