Expert calls for protecting 50,000-year-old indigenous rock art from fertilizing plants


The new federal environment minister has been urged to stop the construction of a fertilizer plant at a World Heritage site in Western Australia and to act quickly to stop the multinational company behind the proposals from erasing indigenous rock art.

(Photo: Image by Bradshaw Art Australia)

Develop a billion dollar factory

Perdaman is developing a $4.5 billion factory on the Burrup Peninsula of Pilbara. The factory, which is supported by the state government and was once federally sponsored, will require the destruction of Aboriginal art dating back nearly 50,000 years.

Sussan Ley, then environment minister, ordered Perdaman to halt construction at the site in March as she assessed a request for emergency rock art preservation from two traditional owners, Raelene Cooper and Josie Alec.

However, less than three weeks later, just days before the start of the government term, Ley informed Cooper and Alec that she would not accept the request for emergency protection because Perdaman had informed her that they could not remove the art for another two months. .

Cooper, a Mardudhunera woman and member of the Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation, and Alec, a Kuruma/Marthudhunera woman and member of the Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation, sent a new request for emergency protection to Tanya Plibersek, the new Minister of the Environment , and Linda Burney, the new Minister of Aboriginal Affairs. , On Monday.

Cooper and Alec have asked Plibersek to save four petroglyphs that Perdaman is offering to move, adding that the company’s two-month deadline for Ley has passed.

Read also: Conservation or preservation: what is the difference?

oppose the plant

The two further stated that the factory should not be built on Murujuga’s property as it would desecrate their land. If developed, it would have to be moved from the Burrup Peninsula as acidic emissions from the factory would destroy nearby petroglyphs even after they were moved.

The Guardian contacted Perdaman for comment.

The plant planned to use gas from nearby Woodside’s Scarborough project to make two million tonnes of fertilizer-grade urea a year. Traditional owners fear the project will endanger the petroglyphs.

Woodside refutes claims that its development on the Burrup would endanger the petroglyphs. According to a spokeswoman, a study showed that the activities of the company had no influence. The society supports a “global best practice program to monitor and conserve rock art” co-managed by the Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation and government authorities.

According to the spokeswoman, the company has worked with traditional custodians and responded to requests for environmental monitoring, archaeological and ethnographic surveys, and access to independent expert opinion.

Plibersek’s spokeswoman said she received the request for preservation and conservation of traditional Murujuga heritage under section nine of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Act. Heritage Protection Act.

“The minister’s office received the request today, and the department is currently reviewing it.”

Perdaman says it has obtained consent from traditional owners for its plans and has received $255 million in funding from state and federal governments to improve water and marine infrastructure at the site.

Deceive the community

On the other hand, Cooper has previously stated Guardian Australia that community members had been misled about Perdaman’s ambitions.

Cooper said in March that “the elders never approved of that.” “They couldn’t understand it.” No one ever explained what was really happening to them.

“I indicated that they would start removing the rock art, and they said no.” They said that again and again.”+

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