• One of the rock shelters at Juukan Gorge. (PKKP Aboriginal Corporation.)Source: PKKP Aboriginal Corporation.
The AFL has decided to sever its ties with Rio Tinto following the mining giant's destruction of ancient rock shelters at Western Australia's Juukan Gorge in May.
Keira Jenkins

14 Oct 2020 - 12:17 PM  UPDATED 16 Oct 2020 - 4:39 PM

The AFL has decided to end a corporate partnership with Rio Tinto amid scrutiny over the mining giant's destruction of 46,000 year old rock shelters at Juukan Gorge in Western Australia's Pilbara region.

Rio Tinto sponsors the AFL's Indigneous pathway program, and the league faced criticism over the partnership as other organisations acted to sever ties with the mining giant following the blast in May.

The destruction has prompted a senate inquiry, three Rio Tinto executives to resign and Reconciliation Australia to revoke the company's Elevate RAP (Reconciliation Action Plan) status.

This week the inquiry heard from the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura Traditional Owners, who said the blast and subsequent loss of the significant rock shelters had caused "immense grief" for them.

Rio Tinto's partnership with the AFL, which funded three Indigenous football programs - the Flying Boomerangs, the Woomeras and the Footy Means Business program, was worth close to $1.5 million.

The partnership was up for renewal this year. 

The decision to end the partnership came after the AFL's head of inclusion Tanya Hosch consulted with Indigenous people, including the league's own Indigenous Advisory Council.

'Immense grief and guilt': PKKP say the destruction of Juukan caves has taken toll
PKKP Traditional Owners have told an inquiry into the destruction of 46,000 year old caves at Juukan Gorge that they are grieving the loss of their cultural heritage, while it was revealed Fortescue Metals Group has applied for a mining license for nearby land.