Protecting indigenous heritage sites

A NEW code of practice to help protect indigenous sites from mining activity was unveiled at the NSW Minerals Council Environment & Community Conference yesterday.
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Australian Coal Association chief executive officer Nikki Williams.

Blair Price

The NSW Minerals Industry Due Diligence Code of Practice for the Protection of Aboriginal Objects was developed to help minimise the risk of harming Aboriginal objects and to meet new legislative requirements.

“The minerals industry is an important partner in the preservation of Aboriginal heritage and this code is part of our commitment to protecting indigenous culture,” NSW Minerals Council chief executive Dr Nikki Williams said yesterday.

“The code sets out the steps that will help explorers and miners assess whether their operations could impact on Aboriginal objects.

“Companies aim to avoid disturbing Aboriginal objects, but if that’s not possible, they work with the Aboriginal community and the government to ensure any impacts are properly assessed, approved and managed.

“For example, artefacts can be stored in ‘keeping places’ during mining operations, with the agreement of the indigenous community, so they can be replaced at the same location after mining.

“While it’s not practical or possible to cover every possible scenario, this concise guide provides a series of examples specific to the minerals industry in NSW that will help minimise and manage any risk to Aboriginal heritage.”

The Xstrata-operated West Wallsend colliery left 2 million tonnes of coal resources out of its future mine plan to help protect Aboriginal archaeological sites.

The West Wallsend joint venture partners will also chip in a total of $A200,000 over the mine’s life to protect the 62 identified indigenous cultural and archaeological sites under the mine’s continued operations project.