Mining Company Blows Up 46,000-Year-Old Ice Age Settlement and Is Not Sorry

Australian company blows up indigenous history, makes a press statement, but gets caught red-handed with a leaked call.
Utku Kucukduner

A significant site containing traces of 46,000 years of continuous settlement had been destroyed along with each and every piece of indigenous culture it contained in Western Australia. This destruction was conducted as part of an iron ore mine expansion.

The cave found in Juukan Gorge, which is about 60 kilometers away from Mount Tom Price digging site was among the oldest human-settlements in Australia and the only mainland site to inhabit humans throughout the last ice age. It was detonated into oblivion a couple of weeks ago.


Mining Company Blows Up 46,000-Year-Old Ice Age Settlement and Is Not Sorry
One of the caves before the company took over, Source: PKKP Aboriginal Corp

In 2014, the company funded an exploration of the site. Countless articles were uncovered throughout the Pilbara Region search effort; including a 28,000-year-old sharpened marsupial bone, the earliest instance of grindstones in the region, and perhaps the most significant, a 4,000-year-old plaited hair strand with DNA of several people on it that directly link it to indigenous people of Australia alive today.

Mining Company Blows Up 46,000-Year-Old Ice Age Settlement and Is Not Sorry
The cave after the mining company took over, Source: PKKP Aboriginal Corp

The leaked recording

The mining company previously shared their sympathies for the “distress they caused” to indigenous people. But as backed by a leaked telephone recording, they don’t seem to be apologizing for the destruction of the historical site at all. 

Chris Salisbury, head of iron ore department at Rio Tinto reportedly said in a press conference: “That’s why we haven’t apologized for the event itself, per se, but apologized for the distress the event caused...”

The phrasing is the key

Apparently Rio Tinto was very careful with their phrasing during the press statement. On June 1 they expressed the following: “We pay our respects to the Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura People (PKKP). We are sorry for the distress we have caused. Our relationship with the PKKP matters a lot to Rio Tinto, having worked together for many years.”

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