The traditional owners of the 46,000 year old Jukkan Gorge caves destroyed by Rio Tinto have criticised the mining giant and the WA government for not doing enough to stop the blast.
In its first public comments on the matter, contained in a submission to a parliamentary inquiry, the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura Aboriginal Corporation laid out its concerns about Rio Tinto’s actions in the lead up to the blast and questioned the company’s subsequent public statements.
“We hope our submission provides a better understanding of our position in relation to the desecration of the Juukan Gorge sites and how this tragedy has deeply affected us,” said PKKP Aboriginal Corporation chair John Ashburton.
“We believe it will provide some clarity about the events leading up to this shocking act of corporate vandalism to our very sacred site, as well as countering some of the information presented by Rio Tinto, which in our view is, at best, incomplete.”
The corporation raised questions as to why Rio Tinto kept loading explosive charges around the Juukan 1 and Juukan 2 rock shelters after the PKKP people raised concerns about the significance of the site.
It also criticised Rio Tinto’s “deep-seated and systemic culture” of minimum compliance referencing profit over everything else, which it also said was reflective of the majority of WA miners.
The corporation took aim at legacy agreements signed between Aboriginal groups and miners, which disadvantage traditional owners and claim that indigenous culture and heritage was undervalued in Australia and the rest of the world.
Despite the rigidness of the WA Aboriginal Heritage Act, which was used to approve the Juukan blasts, the PKKP believed the WA Government could have done more to stop the incident.
The PKKP is yet to state its case to the parliamentary committee thanks to COVID-19 travel restrictions.
Mr Ashburton said the PKKP looked forward to presenting to the inquiry in-person so they could fully relay how this event had impacted them.
The Juukan Gorge incident claimed the scalps of three senior Rio Tinto executives including chief executive Jean-Sébastien Jacques following a campaign by major shareholders.
More to come.
Source: Thanks smh.com