Rio Tinto signs settlement with traditional owners over Juukan Gorge vandalism
Mining company Rio Tinto has reached an agreement with traditional land owners after the destruction of sacred rock shelters at the Juukan Gorge in Western Australia two years ago.
Neither side disclosed financial terms for the deal, but Rio will fund a foundation to be led and controlled by traditional owners, focusing on education, training opportunities and financial independence through businesses development.
The miner blew up the 46,000 year-old sacred site to access iron ore, despite warnings. Subsequent international outrage over the vandalism led to Australia’s government planning heritage protection laws.
In a submission to a federal parliament inquiry into the destruction, Rio admitted it did not “clearly communicate” the timing of the planned demolition of the shelters to the native land owners. The caves contained some of the oldest evidence of human habitation in the world.
"In addition to supporting the creation of the Juukan Gorge Legacy Foundation, remedy discussions have centred on agreeing a new approach to co-management of country as well as the ongoing rehabilitation of the rock shelters and their surrounds at Juukan Gorge," the miner said in a statement said.
"We fell far short of our values as a company and breached the trust placed in us by the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura people by allowing the destruction of the Juukan Gorge rock shelters," he said.
Reporting by Frank Prenesti for Sharecast.com