Mining company damages sacred aboriginal site in Western Australia

An Australian mining company who cleared a sacred aboriginal site in Weelumurra Creek area, west of the country without following proper procedures has expressed regret.

The firm, Fortescue Metals Group, was supposed to develop the land in the presence of community elders, who were to salvage artefacts and perform cultural rites.

But work to expand an iron ore mine went ahead without them due to what the firm called an “administrative error”.

“I have spoken to Wintawari Guruma Aboriginal Corporation (WGAC) Chairman Glen Camille regarding this incident to personally express my regret and sincere apology on behalf of Fortescue,” Fortescue chief executive Elizabeth Gaines said in a statement.

“We have carried out a full investigation into the matter which has shown that this unfortunately occurred as a result of an administrative error… We have paused all clearing works at this site as we work with WGAC on the matter.”

Over the past few years governments in Australia have ramped up development projects in indigenous sites. This has often resulted in conflicts.

Another company, BHP is under investigation after a rock fell in the Pilbara region damaging a sacred site.

Last year a company called Rio Tinto was ordered to rebuild an ancient Aboriginal cave system it blew up.