The Queensland Government has rejected a request from seven Traditional Owners to investigate a potential breach of the Queensland Cultural Heritage Act.

In turn, Bravus Mining & Resources (formerly Adani) has been approved to detonate the site and expand the Carmichael mine.

Those Traditional Owners who attempted to prevent the expansion believe it represents the destruction of ancient cultural artefacts on the site.

Adrian Burragubba, Nagana Yarrbayn Senior Elder and spokesperson for the Wangan and Jagalingou Cultural Custodians commented on his and other Traditional Owners’ request for an investigation.

Burragubba believes the Queensland Government are “ignoring concerns raised by Traditional Owners” and Adani “has broken the law”.

“Adani bulldozed and blew up the site containing the highest concentration of artefacts ever found on Adani’s vast mining lease.”

“The site was an ancient stone tool making area that our people utilised for thousands of years. These artefacts are a reminder of who we are – they must not be destroyed. Some artefacts have been collected, but thousands more have been blown up and bulldozed into piles.”

Burragubba presented his disgust at the 24-year mining plan of Adani, which “is destroying ancient cultural sites that are thousands of years old”.

In responding to the stop order requests and Burragubba, the Queensland Department of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships believes all parties were afforded natural justice in the decision made, as required by the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Act.

“The delegate has informed the relevant parties that there are no reasonable grounds to grant their requests to issue a stop order,’’ a Departmental spokesperson said.

“Additionally, the delegate has determined that there are no reasonable grounds to warrant investigation into the activities conducted by Bravus at the Carmichael Mine.”

Video: Adani destroys W&J cultural heritage site

In a joint statement by Clermont Belyando (formerly Wangan and Jagalingou) Traditional Owners Native Title applicant group and Bravus, the Government decision was welcomed as the allegations against the expansion were described as “misleading”.

Clermont Belyando Native Title Applicants Acting Coordinator Irene Simpson recognised that some do not agree with the Carmichael Project, “the majority of Clermont Belyando people do”.

This majority was shown in 2016 when the Wangan and Jagalingou people voted 294 to 1 in favour of an Indigenous Land Use Agreement for the Carmichael Project. This was then certified in 2017 and registered with the National Native Title Tribunal.

Burragubba, among others, filed a Federal Court application attempting to prevent the project in 2017, which was deemed to be “without merit” in 2018, and upon appeal was dismissed in 2019.

Simpson expressed Clermont Belyando’s satisfaction “that the Cultural Heritage on the Carmichael Project site continues to be managed by the Cultural Heritage Committee in accordance with the CHMP between Bravus Mining and Resources and the Clermont Belyando people”.

A spokesperson for Bravus said the Carmichael Mine cultural heritage works were managed according to the legally-binding agreements in place between the company and the Clermont Belyando Native Title applicant group.

“We are pleased to see the Government has found we complied with our obligations under the cultural heritage management plan entered into with the Clermont and Belyando People and conducted the clearance works in accordance with the resolution passed at the Cultural Heritage Committee meeting on 1 October 2021.”

In the response to the Stop Order and Investigation Requests for the works at the Carmichael Mine, the Department confirmed that Cultural Heritage Coordinator, Patrick Malone, appointed under the relevant Cultural Heritage Management Plan acknowledged that the expansion site had been “culturally cleared” of the artefacts that were there.

By Aaron Bloch