Miner fined over inaccurate anthropology, traditional owners claim

Anthropological details which led to the first prosecution for the desecration of a sacred site are wrong, traditional owners of Bootu Creek mine claim.

OM Manganese was slapped with a $150,000 fine, charged with two counts of desecration and one count of damage in August.

The court found the company’s mining activities broke off a “horizontal arm” of rock, and lessened its sacredness and spiritual value, causing irreparable damage.

OM Holdings’ CEO Peter Toth was apologetic for the damage on the site.

“The company never intended to harm, damage or disrespect the sacred site. We sincerely regret the damage and the hurt caused and I unreservedly apologise to the site’s custodians and traditional owners,” he said at the time.

But a number of traditional owners are now calling on the Northern Land Council to correct Bootu Creek inaccuracies for the sake of history.

“The mob who organised people to go to Darwin for the hearing didn’t get it right”, an elder who did not want to be named told the Tennant Times.

The traditional owners said they’re concerned they were left out of the court proceedings which were led by the Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority.

“The wrong people have been given a say over the country,” a spokesperson for the Bootu traditional owners said.

 “And the information they have is wrong.

“For example, they said the site was to do with the kunapa dreaming, but the kunapa site is a long way from the site that collapsed, about 30 or 40 kilometres away. 

“This will ruin our dreamings and our history if it keeps going on.

The spokesperson blames the NLC for not properly documenting the anthropology of the site.

“I don’t think they have paid any attention to what the old people told them,” she said.

“And I don’t think they care.

“But we care because we are the custodians who have to get the story right for future generations.

“The NLC can’t continue to treat traditional owners with contempt, they need to conduct a review and make sure they listen to everyone this time.”

The Northern Land Council was unavailable for comment at the time of publication.

To keep up to date with Australian Mining, subscribe to our free email newsletters delivered straight to your inbox. Click here.