The federal government's newly released Juukan Gorge report had highlighted the need for legislative change to ensure the protection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander heritage.
Rio Tinto blew up the 46,000-year-old Western Australian caves on Puutu Kunti Kurrama and Pinikura country in May 2020, devastating the traditional owners.
Magazine Hill is a culturally significant site to the Waanyi people but there are two groups of Waanyi with differing perspectives about current plans for the site.
There is a cultural heritage management plan for the site, agreed to by the Waanyi Native Title Aboriginal Corporation (Waanyi PBC) which will result in the destruction of the Hill, including an important rock shelter.
Despite the Waanyi PBC's agreement, some members of the Waanyi community are vehemently opposed to the destruction of Magazine Hill, causing some conflict in the local area.
The report said the Magazine Hill case study highlighted the need for culturally appropriate, well-resourced and ongoing consultation processes to obtain free, prior and Informed consent from Traditional Owners and Native Title holders for proposals on country, as well as avenues available to Traditional Owners to question the apparent 'consent' provided by their PBC and the right to veto activity proposals.
Century Mine was the first mine established in Queensland after 1993 Native Title Act which led to a Gulf Communities Agreement in 1997.
The agreement signed by four Native Title Groups, mine owners and the Queensland Government specified Magazine Hill would be preserved.
In 2010 the Waayni People achieved Native Title over their country excluding the mining leases.
In 2016 New Century Resources acquired Century Mine from MMG in 2016.
Their geotechnical investigations determined Magazine Hill was at risk of damage from historical mining activities and New Century decided tge best option to address the instability was to excavate and remove the hill and buttress the pit wall of the mine.
New Century consulted with the Waanyi PBC which led to the development of a cultural heritage management plan.
"With considerable sadness" Waanyi PBC agreed to the excavation of Magazine Hill negotiating a compensation and a rehabilitation contract for the area. They said its cultural significance was destroyed due to the destruction of the Ten Mile Waterhole ceremonial ground at Lawn Hill in 2010.
Despite the agreement, some Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples were dissatisfied by the consultation process and the lack of consultation beyond the Waanyi PBC.
Uncle Glen Willetts, a Waanyi and Alyawarr man, told the Committee "What we're saying is that when the agreement was first signed over 27 years ago, it was noted in that Gulf Communities Agreement that Magazine Hill will be preserved and protected from the mining companies, regardless of which mining company comes in."
In their submission, New Century Resources said their process gave full opportunity for free, prior and informed consent from the Waanyi People and consent was obtained through an appropriate process.
"Throughout the process in respect of Magazine Hill, the Waanyi People were represented by the Waanyi PBC," New Century said.
"The fact that there were dissenters does not undermine the process adopted or the quality of the consent provided."
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