“There’s a deep sense of this within the organization, and I think we have to use that to drive us institutionally forward,” Barton said. australian financial reviewMining Summit on Wednesday.
PKKP Aboriginal Corporation said it was a sad day marking a “devastating loss” that could never be recovered.
“The destruction of our most important cultural sites should not have happened,” said Burchell Hayes, chairman of the PKKP Land Committee.
While the traditional owners’ losses “can never be undone,” Hayes said remediation efforts were beginning to take shape.
PKKP said recent restoration activities included sowing and replanting in the area to replant the Juukan Gorge landscape with native plants.
Traditional owners have sought a co-management agreement with Rio Tinto that would give them a greater say over future works on their ancestral lands.
“To ensure that we never experience this needless sense of loss and devastation in the future, we are committed to the process of co-governing the country with mining companies,” Hayes said.
“Through restoration works in some of the surrounding areas, we’ve begun to see secondary aspects of the co-management model operating at Juukan Gorge.”
Ancient artifacts unearthed at the Juukan Gorge shelter – including millstones and hammer stones, a 28,000-year-old marsupial bone ground into tools, and a 4,000-year-old belt made of human hair whose DNA is directly related to Today’s PKKP people are linked – having ranked the caves as one of Australia’s most important archaeologically studied sites, the only ones to show evidence of sustained human occupation during the last ice age.
“We’ve always said we’re not against mining, but it needs to be done in the right way, involving traditional owners, first of all, with our free, prior and informed consent,” Hayes said.
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