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Statement From Kimberley Granite Holdings Pty Ltd

Statement From Kimberley Granite Holdings Pty Ltd in response to accusations of damaging a sacred site

The Kimberley Land Council claims that the traditional owners of the land were not consulted about the mining operations last year - is this true?

No, this is not true

On 17 September 2019, Mrs Shirley Drill (a Board Member of the Kimberley Land

Council: see https://www.klc.org.au/our-board) and her son inspected the “mining operations” and confirmed there were “no heritage concerns” with the “mining operations”.

A record of the inspection, signed by Mrs Shirley Drill and her son, was subsequently provided to the Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety (DMIRS) as part of the approvals process.

Further, by letter dated 13 November 2019, the Company’s lawyers wrote to the KLC stating:

Aboriginal Heritage Surveys

(2) [The Company] has been assisted by a number of Malarngowem People who kindly attended the Tenement on 17 September 2019 and confirmed that [the Company]’s proposed quarry operations will not impact any Aboriginal sites;

(3) however, if the Malarngowem People have any concerns in that regard, [the Company] would welcome the conduct of a more formal heritage survey over the Tenement. If that is desired, [the Company] invites a proposal (including budget) for the conduct of a heritage survey over the Tenement as early as possible;

No proposal was provided by the KLC or the Malarngowem People.

The Kimberley Land Council claims that when Kimberley Granite Holdings tried to apply for a mining permit it had already demolished more of the sacred site than allowed - is this true?

It is unclear to the Company how much of the “sacred site” Kimberley Land Council claims the Company was allowed to “demolish”?

The Company has not been advised of the boundary of the Aboriginal site. Accordingly, the Company does not know whether it has “demolished” any portion of the Aboriginal site, let alone how much.

The Kimberley Land Council claims that after Kimberley Granite Holdings was denied a section 18 it continued to work at the site - is this true?

At 5.31 pm, Friday, 5 June 2020, the Office of the Hon Ben Wyatt MLA (Minister) sent an email to the Company’s Solicitor advising of the denial of S18 Consent.

On 4 June 2020, for reasons unrelated to the denial of the S18 Consent (which had not then been communicated to the Company), the Company advised the Minister that it intended “over the next 7 days making the Quarry Site safe, terminating its workforce and placing the Quarry Site on “care and maintenance”.

The Company did that within the stated 7 days.

It should be noted that it does not necessarily follow that the denial of the S18 Consent means that the Company must stop all “works”. It is only those “works” referred to in s 17 of the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972 (WA) which became prohibited.

During the maximum 7 day period, the Company dealt with its property and otherwise made the site safe.

The Company denies that within the maximum 7 day period it did anything prohibited under s 17 of the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972 (WA).

It’s been published elsewhere that Kimberley Granite Holdings has had to lay off multiple workers - is this true and if so how many?

On 3 June 2020, the Company terminated three contractors who had intended to fly from Perth to the Quarry Site later that day. Each of those contractors had previously undertaken works at the Quarry Site in the last 4 months; On 4 June 2020, the Company informed the Department of Planning, Land and Heritage (DPLH) that placing the site on “care and maintenance” involved the following:

(1) terminating the following full-time employees: (a) 3 full-time Aboriginal workers; (b) 2 full-time non-Aboriginal workers who reside in locally; (c) 2 full-time non-Aboriginal workers who do not reside locally;

The Company did so terminate those full-time employees within the maximum 7 days referred to above.

It is noteworthy that the Kimberley Development Commission (as established as a Statutory Authority under the Regional Development Commissions Act 1993)  estimates unemployment in the Halls Creek Local Government Area to be approximately 40%.

(see graph at https://kdc.wa.gov.au/economic-profile/employment/)

Did Kimberley Granite Holdings know that the area was an Aboriginal Heritage site before it started work?

No, the Company did not know it was an Aboriginal Heritage site before it started work.

Prior to starting work, the Company had been informed by several senior local Malarngowem People that the quarry area was not an Aboriginal site. See answer to first question.

FURTHER COMMENTS

1. The Minister’s denial of the S18 Consent is now the subject of a review in the State Administrative Tribunal (SAT).

2. The proposed grant of mining lease M80/644 is now the subject of a determination proceeding in the National Native Title Tribunal (NNTT). Under the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth) (NTA), the Company, the Malarngowem People’s representative (ie applicant) and the State of Western Australia were required from 20 November 2019 to negotiate in good faith about the grant of mining lease M80/644.

Because agreement could not be reached with the Malarngowem People, and because the Company believed it had “negotiated in good faith” with the Malarngowem People, on 4 June 2020 the Company applied to the NNTT for a determination that mining lease M80/644 may be granted.

As part of that process, the NNTT will consider whether the Malarngowem People / KLC did act in “good faith” during the mandatory “good faith” negotiation period commencing 20 November 2019.

3. If the Company commences full-scale quarrying at the site, it estimates that 35 to 40 people will be employed, half of which will be local Halls Creek persons.

Kimberley Land Council

 STATEMENT                                                                                               27 July 2020

Response to Kimberley Granite Holdings statement on The Project – July 22, 2020.

The below information is provided to correct the inaccurate claims made by Kimberley Granite Holdings in their statement to The Project, which stated they had consulted with the traditional owners and that they were unaware of an Aboriginal heritage site within their area of operations.

Mr Rusty Peters is the senior custodian for the Jawaren (Serpent Dreaming) site.  Ms Mabel Juli is the senior custodian for the Garnkiny (Moon Dreaming) site.  The Jawaren site has been significantly damaged by the operations of Kimberley Granite Holdings and the Garnkiny site has also been impacted.

Mr Peters and Ms Juli are members of the Malarngowem native title claim group, who were recognised as holding native title rights in the area of Jawaren and Garnkiny by the Federal Court on Australia on 23 May 2019.  The Malarngowem native title claim group is represented by the Malarngowem Applicant, who are nine members of the claim group.  The names of the Malarngowem Applicant are on a public register.

As a matter of law under the Aboriginal Heritage Act and the Native Title Act, decisions regarding cultural heritage are made by the senior custodians for an area, and decisions about native title are made by the native title applicant within the authority given to them by their native title holding group.

The below responses can be attributed to Nolan Hunter, CEO, Kimberley Land Council (KLC).

Statement put to Kimberley Granite by ‘The Project’: 

The Kimberley Land Council claims that the traditional owners of the land were not consulted about the mining operations last year - is this true?

Yes, this is true.

The Kimberley Granite statement says that traditional owners were consulted because Mrs Shirley Drill and her son were taken to the site of operations and “inspected” those operations.  Kimberley Granite refers to Mrs Drill’s role as a KLC board member.

Neither Mrs Drill or her son are members of the Malarngowem Applicant or senior custodians for the area of the mining operations.  Mrs Drill’s status as a KLC board member gives her no authority to speak for the area.  Furthermore, Mrs Drill’s recollection of the events is that she was told that a “tool box size” amount of material would be removed from the site.

Furthermore, the Kimberley Land Council is the native title representative body for the Kimberley region.  None of its directors, members or staff have any authority to make decisions about native title or cultural heritage in their capacity as directors, members or staff, and have never sought to do so.

Statement put to Kimberley Granite by ‘The Project’:

The Kimberley Land Council claims that after Kimberley Granite Holdings was denied a section 18 it continued to work at the site - is this true?

The Kimberley Granite statement says that “within the maximum 7-day period” (after it decided to put the site into care and maintenance) it did not do anything prohibited under section 17 of the Aboriginal Heritage Act.

The KLC says that Kimberley Granite continued operations after the section 18 application was refused and Kimberley Granite’s own statement confirms this.  There was no permission given to the company to take ‘7 days’ to wind down operations.

On June 4, 2020, Kimberley Granite’s section 18 Application under the Aboriginal Heritage Act was declined by Minster Wyatt who stated that “the Traditional Owners do not agree with the destruction of their heritage and sacred sites of importance and special significance and Garkiny (Moon Dreaming) is considered a sacred site.”

Statement put to Kimberley Granite by ‘The Project’: 

Did Kimberley Granite Holdings know that the area was an Aboriginal Heritage site before it started work?

The Kimberley Granite statement says that the company did not know that the area was a sacred site before it started operations.

The KLC says that on October 1, 2019, the KLC informed Kimberley Granite Holdings in writing that a site of cultural significance was being damaged by their operations.

The KLC is also aware that Kimberley Granite had already notified by the Department of Mining in August 2019 that there was a sacred site in the area.

 

Media contact

Shannon Wilson, Media Coordinator. M: 0408 436 987 E: shannon.wilson@klc.org.au