The Top End’s Aboriginal heritage watchdog will probe alleged damage to a sacred site during mining exploration amid heated legal action between a gas company, cattle barons and an activist native title group.

On Thursday Tamboran Resources confirmed it had not stopped approved civil works at Rallen Australia’s Tanumbirini Cattle Station in the Beetaloo Basin, despite claims to the contrary from opponents.

It comes after Nurrdalinji Native Title Aboriginal Corporation on Tuesday alleged Sweetpea Petroleum, a subsidiary of Tamboran, had damaged a culturally significant songline at Newcastle Creek while building a track.

The new 18 metre-wide access road.

The Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority has arranged to conduct a compliance audit at Tanumbirini on July 5.

An AAPA spokesperson confirmed they had issued an order to protect sacred sites at Tanumbirini Station, which remained in force.

“Authority certificates set out the conditions under which proposed work near sacred sites may be carried out,” she said.

“Failure to comply with the conditions set out in an authority certificate is an offence under the Sacred Sites Act.”

Nurrdalinji wrote to Tamboran, the AAPA and the Northern Land Council this week expressing concern.

Nurrdalinji chair Johnny Wilson said damage to the creek showed a lack of respect.

“We ask Sweetpea to stop further work so we can meet and discuss the consequences of what has happened, together with custodians, the Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority and the Northern Land Council,” he said.

Tamboran managing director Joel Riddle said the company’s authority certificate provided clear identification of sacred sites and had registered a number of restricted work areas – including around Newcastle Creek.

Nurrdalinji Aboriginal Corporation chair Johnny Wilson and Rallen director Pierre Langenhoven.

“Sweetpea will comply with all conditions of the AC and will not undertake works that are prohibited within any relevant restricted work area,” he said.

“The AAPA are the only legitimate body able to declare sacred sites and issue an AC under NT law.

“The AAPA have worked cooperatively with Tamboran throughout the process.”

Mr Riddle said Traditional Owners recognised by the Northern Land Council have been on the record announcing support for development of the Beetaloo Basin.

“We look forward to working closely with the Traditional Owners recognised by the NLC to protect their sacred sites and who will benefit from the generation of jobs, education and Native Title royalties in the region,” he said.

Mr Riddle said the company would continue to work closely with all stakeholders, “including legitimate traditional owners” through the Northern Land Council.