BHP is establishing a new company that will comprise Banjima Elders and senior company representatives to provide input into mine plans at the South Flank iron ore project in Western Australia.
The South Flank mine is located on the Banjima traditional lands in the Pilbara region. BHP stated that the new company, Heritage Advisory Council, would build on the long-standing partnership between the company and the Banjima people.
Council members will be selected and endorsed by the Banjima Elders’ Council, who will provide guidance on matters including heritage, lore, language and custom.
Both BHP and the Banjima Native Title Aboriginal Corporation (BNTAC) made a submission into the Rio Tinto Juukan Gorge inquiry.
In its submission, BHP outlined that in order to properly address cultural heritage matters, it must take into account the views of Traditional Owners of the lands where the cultural heritage is located.
BNTAC chair and senior Banjima Elder Maitland Parker said the advisory council will open an important line of communication between the Banjima Elders and BHP.
“The establishment of the South Flank Heritage Advisory Council is the next step in how Banjima and BHP seek to consider and communicate with respect to cultural heritage,” Parker said.
“We want to ensure that we continue to strike the right balance between social and economic benefits and protection of our heritage.
“We must consider the benefits and impact, not only for the current generation but also future generations.”
Parker said the Banjima Traditional Owners look forward to working with BHP on the South Flank mine expansion plans and sharing their unbroken connection with Banjima country on the council.
BHP president of minerals, Australia Edgar Basto said he too is looking forward to building on the partnership between the company and the Banjima people.
“The establishment of this senior advisory council reflects the continued strengthening of the partnership between BHP and Banjima and will ensure ongoing high levels of dialogue between us on important cultural heritage and other matters,” Basto said.
“It builds on an already very strong partnership between Banjima and BHP.”