Aboriginal artefacts uncovered at Rio Tinto coal mine

Archeologists have uncovered some of the oldest Aboriginal artefacts at Rio Tinto's Mt Thorley Warkworth coal mine in the Hunter Valley.

It is believed that "chipped stone tools" uncovered in the "Warkworth sand sheets" are around 15 000 years old, according to the Newcastle Herald.

Wonnarua Nation Aboriginal Corporation chief Laurie Perry said the local indigenous people have been excited by the find.

However while the group still expressed their disappointment that continued open cut mining will destroy the site they did welcome the creation of a museum displaying the uncovered artefacts.

A Rio spokesperson added that the miner understood the importance of the Aboriginal artefacts to the indigenous community.

Typically miners butt heads with local indigenous groups, with fellow Hunter valley coal miner Ashton Coal coming under fire for allegedly damaging sacred sites, and a Queensland quarrying company fined $80 000 for "disturbing culturally significant Aboriginal artefacts".

According to geoarcheologist Phillip Hughes, the Hunter Valley is one of the most studied areas in the Australia due to the assessments for coal mining approvals.

Rio reports that it believes Aboriginal artifact sites are scattered across its tenements and operations in the Hunter Valley.

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