• The East Guruma elders say FMG will "destoy" their land and leave nothing for the next generation. (Supplied: Paul Abrahams)Source: Supplied: Paul Abrahams
A West Australian Indigenous group is planning to publicly grade mining companies on how well they comply with social, environmental and cultural standards.
By
Sarah Collard

Source:
NITV News
11 Mar 2021 - 5:11 PM  UPDATED 11 Mar 2021 - 5:11 PM

The Wintawari Guruma Aboriginal Corp (WGAC) represents the Eastern Guruma area in WA's iron ore-rich Pilbara region - some of the most mined Country in the nation. 

The group wants to ensure ordinary Australians, as well as shareholders and stakeholders, are aware of the importance of cultural heritage through a scorecard system. 

The WGAC Director Tony Bevan said the system will rate mining companies out of a possible 1250 points, based on heritage protection compliance, caring for the environment, relationship with mining companies and Indigenous groups, and social reporting. 

"Each mining company will get a score and so FMG might get a score of X and Rio get a score of Y and we'll say these are the areas where we've identified [as] areas for improvement," Tony Bevan told NITV News. 

 

Last year, the intentional destruction of the sacred 46,000-year-old Juukan Gorge caves by mining giant Rio Tinto caused outrage nation-wide.

Tony Bevan says it was a wake up call for many Australians. 

"I suppose the public seems to have a greater appreciation of the importance of Aboriginal heritage sites. This is Australia's heritage," Mr Bevan said. 

Mr Bevan stressed the move is not about 'naming and shaming', but that it is critical that mining companies are held accountable for their actions on Indigenous land. 

"They've got to explain their actions on Country, and be accountable for those actions. We see that the scorecard is a great way of providing feedback and providing some accountability," Mr Bevan told NITV News. 

He said other Indigenous groups in the Pilbara are also interested in implementing a similar scheme to assess and rate mining activity on their Country. 

"They're very keen to [do] it. I've had contact from a couple of groups already that are looking to adopt a similar process," Mr Bevan said.  

Last week Rio Tinto Chairman Simon Thompson announced he would be stepping down over his role in the destruction of the caves, which showed evidence of continuous human occupation stretching back 46,000 years.

His announced departure followed the resignation of several other top executives for their roles in the incident.  

The Wintawari Guruma Aboriginal Corp expect the rating system will be fully implemented by next year.  

Top executive to resign over Juukan Gorge cave destruction
Rio Tinto Chairman Simon Thompson says he accepts responsibility for destroying the 46,000-year-old caves, and will join the list of executives who have quit the company in the wake of the blast.
Rio's heritage revamp after Juukan saga
Rio Tinto has outlined changes to its cultural heritage management process following its destruction of the sacred Juukan Gorge caves.