(Bloomberg) — Glencore Plc’s plans to expand one of the world’s largest zinc and lead mines has been thrown into doubt after an Australian government judged it failed to adequately consult with Aboriginal custodians over the protection of a sacred site.
In a ruling that may remind resource investors of the backlash against Rio Tinto Group’s 2020 destruction of ancient rock shelters, the Northern Territory government found that Glencore didn’t consult all custodians of the Damangani sacred site on its McArthur River mine expansion plans.
The Swiss-headquartered company claimed in March 2017 to have reached an agreement with Indigenous stakeholders for the expansion. According to the Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority, the government’s ruling announced Tuesday means the company must undertake consultation with all custodians before it commences any expansion.
“Protecting sacred sites is not a box to be ticked, or an obstacle to be sidestepped,” Benedict Scambary, chief executive officer at the protection authority, said in a statement. “Aboriginal custodians must give free, prior and informed consent to development.”
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