(Bloomberg) — Rio Tinto Group should to agree a restitution package with traditional landowners over mine blasts this year that badly damaged two ancient Aboriginal heritage sites, Australian legislators recommended in a sweeping report after four months of hearings into the incident.
The inquiry’s interim report called on Rio, and all other mining companies operating in Western Australia, to put on hold any applications under a controversial section of the state’s indigenous heritage law that gives companies with mining rights permission to damage a site.
It also advised that the state government replace the law with stronger protections. “Rio Tinto’s role in this tragedy is inexcusable,” the report said. “Rio knew the value of what they were destroying but blew it up anyway.”
Rio declined to immediately comment on the details of the report as the company studies the recommendations.
Explosions by Rio in May to open up a mining area at an iron ore operation impacted two rock-shelters — shallow, cave-like structures — in the Juukan Gorge region of Western Australia’s Pilbara region.
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