Heritage and culture

Heritage and culture

In the Pilbara, our Aboriginal heritage programme meets our obligations for identification, assessment, protection and management of Aboriginal heritage sites. As part of the programme, our heritage team works closely with Aboriginal Traditional Owners to effectively manage activities around cultural heritage sites.  Participation of the Aboriginal Traditional Owners in managing their cultural heritage is essential in order to ensure that Rio Tinto’s activities are conducted in a culturally appropriate manner.

Our heritage team is one of the largest and most experienced of its kind in the resources industry. Our professionals include qualified archaeologists, anthropologists, specialists in cultural heritage management, Geographical Information Systems, information management and community liaison, all of whom collectively facilitate the management of Aboriginal cultural heritage across our iron ore tenements and mining leases in Western Australia.

Our comprehensive Cultural Heritage Management System ensures appropriate protection and management of Aboriginal heritage through engagement with Aboriginal Traditional Owners and our Approvals Coordination System regulates ground disturbance activities to ensure that significant Aboriginal and environmental sites are not disturbed without authorisation.

As part of our heritage programme, we partner in the research and analysis of significant sites. This research has included archaeological excavations in rock shelters in the inland Pilbara which have revealed evidence of occupation by Aboriginal people over 40,000 years. We are also proud to partner the Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation and the University of Western Australia in a major research programme, Murujuga: Dynamics of the Dreaming, and in an annual field school on the Burrup Peninsula near Dampier. This gives students and Aboriginal rangers an opportunity to work together in the identification, recording and management of the significant rock art in this area.

2017 heritage surveys performance

Number of heritage incidents

Number of heritage survey days

Area covered by heritage survey

The cultural heritage surveys identified above were associated with our exploration and evaluation drilling programs, extensions to existing mines and future mine development studies.

The two recorded incidents related to the use of existing infrastructure within the heritage site boundaries. These were investigated and reported to the relevant Traditional Owner groups.