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Rio Tinto Destroys Heritage Site

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Rio Tinto Destroys Heritage Site

Unread postby Tanada » Mon 27 Jul 2020, 07:19:55

A Mining Company in Australia Blew Up Aboriginal Caves Full of 46,000 Years of History

History recently lost out in favor of industry in Australia, when a 46,000-year-old aboriginal cave was blown up by a mining company.

The Juukan Gorge 1 and 2 rock shelter caves were destroyed the metal-mining company Rio Tinto last month. The caves, located in Western Australia, in the Pilbara region, are one of the country’s oldest aboriginal heritage sites, with signs of continuous signs human occupation that predate the last Ice Age, according to a report in the Independent.

Despite the fact that the incident is now being called an ‘incomprehensible mistake,’ it appears that the company knew about the site and its significance at least six years ago.

In 2014, an archaeologist named Michael Slack confirmed that the Juukan 2 cave was unique in the Pilbara area, and rare across Australia as a whole.

The site held evidence of more than 40,000 years of ongoing human habitation, and contained large numbers of artifacts, including objects made of flaked stone, stone tools, bits of human hair, and an unusually large supply of animal remains.

It also contained sedimentary material with enough of a pollen record that scientists could track thousands of years’ worth of environmental changes.

The Australian Broadcasting Company was given a summary of Slack’s report, which was given both to Rio Tinto and to the Pinikura and Puutu Kunti Kurrama (PKKP) indigenous people six years ago, but was never released to the public.

Slack and his team removed more than 7,000 artifacts from the Cave 2 system in 2014, and his report noted that their findings were of the highest archaeological significance for Australia. Interestingly, the mining company did seem to be aware of the cultural significance of the site.

The year after Slack’s report, they funded a documentary about the site, called Ngurra Minarti, which translates as ‘Our country.’

The documentary included indigenous people of the area taking about their concerns for protecting the region’s remaining cultural sites, including the caves.

The PKKP had reportedly visited the site earlier this month, in hopes of negotiating the stoppage, or at least limitations, on the mining operations, but had been told that the explosives were already in place and couldn’t be removed.

The mining company had been given approval to mine the area in 2013, before Slack’s team made their discoveries and proved the site was of even greater significance than previously believed.

At the time, the appropriate permissions were obtained from the Minister for Aboriginal Affiars, in accordance with a 1972 law which had been written to favor mining companies.

The text of the law says that any activity that could destroy or damage aboriginal site needs to apply for permission through the Aboriginal Cultural Material Committee, which implies that the concerns of the indigenous people are being considered; however, nothing specifies that indigenous people must be part of the committee. Furthermore, the committee’s decisions are final and without appeal.

Rio Tinto has been receiving both domestic and international backlash over the site’s destruction by outraged members of the public.

But has been defending its actions by saying both that it followed the appropriate steps for obtaining permissions and also that the company has worked well with the PKKP on various matters related to aboriginal heritage matters, sometimes modifying operations to protect cultural sites.

In the face of outcry from multiple fronts, including Unesco, from which a spokesperson compared the caves’ destruction to ISIS’s destruction of Palmyra, Chris Salisbury, the iron ore chief executive for the company, eventually apologized.

He called the act a ‘misunderstanding,’ and said that the company took ‘full accountability.’

He said that the company was sorry for the distress it caused, and paid its respects to the PKKP. The company would be working with the PKKP in the future to learn from what happened, and would urgently be reviewing their plans for other sites in the region.

Learning from one’s mistakes is always a good way to go, but, unfortunately, it will do nothing to mitigate the loss the indigenous people have already sustained in the caves’ destruction.


LINKY
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Re: Rio Tinto Destroys Heritage Site

Unread postby Newfie » Mon 27 Jul 2020, 10:18:40

TANADA,

Thanks for that story.

Sometimes hard to see the difference from the Taliban.
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Re: Rio Tinto Destroys Heritage Site

Unread postby Tanada » Mon 27 Jul 2020, 12:13:11

Newfie wrote:TANADA,

Thanks for that story.

Sometimes hard to see the difference from the Taliban.


My educational pursuits were always heavily on history as it is my true love. This kind of event just makes my guts twist into knots, it is like blowing up Stone Henge or the Sphinx to extract a few thousand tons of coal beneath the surface and IMO totally inexcusable. The reality is the site was priceless to current and future archeological research and was destroyed for a pittance of profit never to be recovered. Heck at Stone Henge in the UK there is a section placed off limits to current researches based on the hope that future researchers with better future techniques will be able to get even better detailed information from studying that area 50 or 100 years in the future.

This site in Australia was one of the earliest recorded sites of human habitation dating from the depths of the last major glaciation and the things we could have learned with just modern techniques are priceless. All gone for a momentary paycheck probably already spent by the company and its employees for current expenses.
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Re: Rio Tinto Destroys Heritage Site

Unread postby Plantagenet » Mon 27 Jul 2020, 14:30:05

Clearly the Government of Australia made a big mistake when they gave Rio Tinto permission to mine in that area. They should have done a complete archeological survey BEFORE giving the mining company permission to proceed. But by giving Rio Tinto permission to mine the Australian government certified that mining would be OK. That makes the Australian government at least equally culpable for the destruction as the mine, IMHO.

And then when an archeologist made important discoveries in that area, the Government of Australia should've withdrawn the permission to mine. Again, the Government of Australia made a huge mistake.....

Thats two major screw ups by the Australian government.

What the heck are the people in the Australian government doing other then cashing their checks?

THEY are in charge of protecting Australia's heritage. IMHO the mining company properly obtained permission from the government, and it is the government who is at fault for not properly managing their own responsibilities to protect these important archeological sites.

CHEERS!
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Re: Rio Tinto Destroys Heritage Site

Unread postby Tanada » Mon 27 Jul 2020, 16:42:32

Plantagenet wrote:Clearly the Government of Australia made a big mistake when they gave Rio Tinto permission to mine in that area. They should have done a complete archeological survey BEFORE giving the mining company permission to proceed. But by giving Rio Tinto permission to mine the Australian government certified that mining would be OK. That makes the Australian government at least equally culpable for the destruction as the mine, IMHO.

And then when an archeologist made important discoveries in that area, the Government of Australia should've withdrawn the permission to mine. Again, the Government of Australia made a huge mistake.....

Thats two major screw ups by the Australian government.

What the heck are the people in the Australian government doing other then cashing their checks?

THEY are in charge of protecting Australia's heritage. IMHO the mining company properly obtained permission from the government, and it is the government who is at fault for not properly managing their own responsibilities to protect these important archeological sites.

CHEERS!


On the one hand I agree Australia did a terrible job when issuing the permit and on the other hand I agree Rio Tinto followed the law by getting permission first. Ultimately on the gripping hand however Rio Tinto has the responsibility for exercising the permit over all the permitted territory. Even though the permit covered a vast area and they were within the regulations they are responsible the same way a legal car driver who speeds recklessly putting others at deep risk is the one responsible for any damage they cause by scaring pedestrians or other drivers into over reacting to the threat they pose.
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Re: Rio Tinto Destroys Heritage Site

Unread postby Newfie » Mon 27 Jul 2020, 16:47:47

IMHO the correct response would be to deny Rio any access to the claim AND assign substantial penalties, to be paid before resuming operations anywhere within Oz.
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Re: Rio Tinto Destroys Heritage Site

Unread postby careinke » Tue 28 Jul 2020, 04:27:52

People who destroy history are just sick Fucks.
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Re: Rio Tinto Destroys Heritage Site

Unread postby Boff » Tue 28 Jul 2020, 07:51:47

Newfie wrote:TANADA,

Thanks for that story.

Sometimes hard to see the difference from the Taliban.


...or Black Lives Matter.
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Re: Rio Tinto Destroys Heritage Site

Unread postby rockdoc123 » Tue 28 Jul 2020, 11:21:36

IMHO the correct response would be to deny Rio any access to the claim AND assign substantial penalties, to be paid before resuming operations anywhere within Oz.


this would be the normal response in most countries I have worked in over the years. Invariably prior to starting seismic acquisition in places other than complete deserts we always hired an archeology consultant to do a survey which would be usually done in conjunction with representatives from a local university. If there were areas that came out as being potential sites (quite common in the amazon, parts of North America, SE Asia etc) a plan was made as to how these sites could be preserved and also how the university could explore the site at the same time as oil and gas activities were occurring. In a few cases, I remember the original survey had shown the area to be completely void of any archeological sites of interest and upon conducting seismic one of the crew would spot a shard of pottery or a flint tool and then the operation was shut down immediately for a proper review. This was a pain in the backside as you are paying standby to crews while the potential site is quickly explored but it is part of doing business. If there was a site discovered it was quickly mapped out and the program was adjusted to avoid it. There is no reason that the extraction of oil & gas or minerals cannot be done in such a way as to preserve archeological sites. In some cases, such developments can actually help to identify them. The biggest problem companies have is in educating the field crews in what is expected. Too often you would find someone who instead of drawing attention to a find would instead cover it up presumably as he was worried about being put out of work.
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Re: Rio Tinto Destroys Heritage Site

Unread postby dissident » Wed 29 Jul 2020, 13:07:05

The word corruption clearly fits in this context.
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