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Ancient Aboriginal site blasted by mining giant

The site at Juukan Gorge in WA's Pilbara region, after Rio Tinto's blast took place. Source: Supplied: PKKP

Last weekend an ancient Aboriginal site of great historical and cultural value was destroyed to make way for mining.


  •        Mining company Rio Tinto blasted two ancient Aboriginal sites in WA
  •        Artefacts found in the area date 46 000 years
  •        The company says they had permission
  •        According to officials and community elders WA's Aboriginal Heritage laws need to change


Mining company Rio Tinto detonated the two sites in accordance with permission granted in 2013 despite archaeologists finding artefacts dating 46 000 years.

The traditional owners are devastated by the loss.

Western Australian Indigenous Affairs Minister, Ben Wyatt, says the destruction of two ancient rock shelters at the Pilbara mine highlights why the state’s Aboriginal Heritage laws need to change.


In response to the destruction of the ancient heritage site National Native Title Council’s Chief Executive Jamie Lowe expressed solidarity with Traditional Owners.

“The destruction of this extremely significant heritage site is devastating and we stand with the Traditional Owners, the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura peoples, in their grief at this incalculable loss of culture. Their ancestors have protected these sites for tens of thousands of years and they should have been the decision-makers about what happened to their heritage.”

The mining giant argues it had consent to detonate the site. "In 2013, Ministerial consent was granted to allow Rio Tinto to conduct activity at the Brockman 4 mine that would impact Juukan 1 and Juukan 2 rock shelters," Rio Tinto spokesperson told the ABC.

Rio Tinto
Mining company Rio Tinto
Getty/Aaron Bunch

WA Indigenous Affairs Minister, Ben Wyatt, said he will hold consultations as soon as practicable and expects for a new law to be passed by the end of the year.

Read more on why this was allowed to happen.

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