The growth of a large Northern Territory mine is more likely to influence an Indigenous sacred website, a federal parliamentary inquiry has been advised.
A rising waste rock pile over 100 metres excessive at Glencore’s McArthur River Mine will come near the culturally important space, the NT Aboriginal Areas Safety Authority says.
“By our estimations, the work related to the waste rock pile will come inside 35 metres of the boundary of that website,” chief govt Ben Scambary mentioned on Tuesday.
“This yr the dimensions of the mine growth raises some fairly critical questions concerning the ongoing upkeep and safety of sacred websites on the lease, and likewise entry for custodians to these locations into the long run.”
Talking to a federal parliamentary inquiry into Rio Tinto’s destruction of 46,000-year-old caves at Juukan Gorge in Western Australia, Dr Scambary mentioned there have been additionally issues about an archaeological website at McArthur River the place Indigenous stone instruments had been discovered.
“It is a quarry website that is thought of to be of reasonable to the excessive significance throughout the bounds of the event,” he mentioned.
Dr Scambary mentioned a request to salvage the instruments from the mine – about 800km southeast of Darwin – had been made “however a choice hadn’t been forthcoming”.
There additionally questions on whether or not the 2004 authority certificates allowing work on the zinc, silver and lead mine – the place native title has been extinguished till 2046 – lined the present growth.
Dr Scambary mentioned APPA would “have to be happy that there will probably be no influence of the sacred websites” earlier than a certificates extension could be granted.
“It has been a really tense state of affairs. The corporate asserts that it continued to undertake works on the mine presumably on the growth in accordance with the prevailing certificates,” he mentioned.
“They’ve additionally lodged a ministerial assessment which is in play.”
The McArthur River Mine has been dogged by environmental incidents and claims its continued operation might harm the websites.
Among the issues recognized embody burning waste rock emitting sulphur dioxide plumes, which took greater than six years to rectify with the NT mining regulator.
A seeping tailings dam additionally dangers contaminating groundwater with metallic and acid, based on a latest report from the College of NSW’s World Water Institute and the NT Environmental Centre.
Researchers additionally discovered that 22 Indigenous sacred websites had been probably below menace from the mining operations, together with the Djirrinmini waterhole, which is believed to be a breeding website for critically endangered sawfish.
Conventional house owners of the positioning – the Gudanji, Yanyuwa and Yanyuwa-Marra peoples – need compensation for alleged harm to the cultural websites and the lack of their native title rights.
They blame the NT authorities for penning the deal for the mine with Mount Isa Mines Ltd in 1992 and have lodged a case with the Federal Court docket.
Conventional house owners have additionally lately launched authorized motion towards the federal government within the NT Supreme Court docket after it slashed the mine’s environmental safety bond by virtually $120 million to round $400 million.
Glencore mentioned it could acquire the suitable approvals from the AAPA for any future mining plans that will require amended or new authority certificates.
“We function below stringent situations set down by means of NT and federal laws in addition to situations of Aboriginal Areas Safety Authority certificates, designed to guard Sacred Websites,” it mentioned in an announcement.
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