Mining giant BHP has reported damage to a culturally significant site in Western Australia’s iron ore-rich Pilbara region

A tree in the Pilbara overlooking mountains and valleys.

Mining giant BHP has reported damage to a culturally significant site in Western Australia’s iron ore-rich Pilbara region, months after Rio Tinto drew international criticism for destroying ancient rock shelters at Juukan Gorge.

Key points:

  • BHP has reported damage to a culturally significant Aboriginal site in the Pilbara
  • It comes a year after Rio Tinto faced international condemnation for the destruction of Juukan Gorge
  • Banyjima traditional owners are working with BHP to investigate the cause

BHP President for Minerals Australia Edgar Basto said the company discovered fallen rocks near its mining operations on Banyjima land in January, but he said it was unclear whether mining caused the damage.

“On 29 January 2021, as part of monitoring in the Pilbara region of Western Australia, we identified a rockfall at a registered Banyjima site,” Mr Basto said.

“This site is not part of current mining operations — the cause of the rockfall is not known.”

The damage was located near the $4 billion South Flank mine site, about 130 kilometers north-west of Newman in WA’s north.

A Banyjima Native Title Aboriginal spokesperson said traditional owners were working with BHP to investigate the incident.

“Banyjima’s South Flank Heritage Committee met with BHP executives on 11 February to process the investigation,” they said.

It comes after Rio Tinto’s Juukan Gorge blast, which drew international condemnation when it destroyed the site in May 2020.

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