Mining firm fined for ruining Aboriginal sacred site
An Australian mining company has been fined for desecrating an Aboriginal sacred site, in a landmark judgment.
It is believed to be the first successful prosecution by a government authority of a mining company for ruining a sacred site, although such acts have occurred many times in the past.
The company, OM Manganese, has been operating the Bootu Creek manganese mine in the Northern Territory since 2005.
But last year the detonation of explosives for opening up new seams of ore caused part of an ancient rock formation, known as ‘Two Women Sitting Down’, to collapse.
The site is sacred to the Kunapa clan, who are the traditional owners and custodians of the area.
Dr Ben Scambary, head of the Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority, said, ‘This site… relates to a dreaming story about a marsupial rat and a bandicoot who had a fight over bush tucker. As the creation ancestors fought, their blood spilled out, turning the rock a dark-red colour.’
Kunapa community representative Gina Smith said, ‘It will always remain a sacred site to us, but it has been ruined and we don’t know what to do.’
The site is part of a Kunapa songline, an invisible pathway connecting events from the Aboriginal dreamtime long ago.
The magistrate, Sue Oliver, ruled that OM Manganese favoured ‘business and profit’ over its duty to protect the sacred site.
Related news articles
- Progress can kill: shocking photos highlight tribes’ health crisis February 8, 2016
- Aboriginal anger at gas project plans October 8, 2010
- New Aboriginal community offers glimmer of hope February 23, 2010
- Uncontacted tribes’ rights recognized in Peru’s historic land pledge April 5, 2018
- India: Tribes threatened by conservation plan historic protest March 15, 2018
- “350% rise in Karnataka forest fires was preventable” say local tribespeople March 14, 2018
- Congo Republic: Baka “Pygmies” beaten up and arrested March 8, 2018