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From Podcast: Understorey

Understorey: Mining Giants’ Social Licence Explodes

Wednesday 17th June / posted by Under Storey

First it was Rio Tinto, and the destruction of rock shelters of Indigenous and global significance.  Then, Fortescue Metals Group, happy with the $280 billion it will make over 40 years, but planning to destroy three more rock shelters, including one stretching back 60,000 years ago.  Next: BHP, with the legal right to demolish 40 more Aboriginal heritage sites, temporarily paused. Three mining giants: Rio Tinto, FMG, and BHP, all lined up in the Pilbara with their Ministerial consent orders, not needing to consult any further, with Western Australians asking questions about how this legislation came about.  Companies can appeal Ministerial decisions, and yet the same "Aboriginal Heritage Act" denies appeals to Aboriginal people themselves.  A Minister: unable to rescind his own decision.  Significant sites: back in Premier Barnett's days, redefined out of existence.  Companies may operate within the law, says Greens Senator Rachel Siewert, but she says the mining companies have no social licence to destroy culture, deny Aboriginal people appeal rights, gag them with agreements, or ignore public opinion. While Aboriginal Heritage law needs changing in Western Australia, similar underwhelming legislation also exists at the federal level, the senator says.  According to Siewert, it's time for mining companies to hand back their approvals, offer their support for better heritage legislation (including strengthening whistleblowers inside companies), and create agreements with local Aboriginal groups which don't gag them.  Until then, Senator Rachel Siewert says, the mining companies operate without a 21st century social licence.

(Image: Pilbara: Google Maps, Black Lives matter, Rachel Siewert: Facebook)

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In ecology, the understorey grows where light shines through the forest canopy.

Our award-winning Understorey journalists highlight local and globally-connected environmental issues that the other media commonly pass over.

RTRFM’s long-running dedicated environment program makers Adrian Glamorgan and Elizabeth PO’ bring together stories from near and sometimes afar, whether it be conservationists rehabilitating habitat, citizen scientists gathering data, campaigners at the frontline, or decision-makers at their desks, seeking solutions together to the challenges affecting our shared air, water, land and life processes.

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