MELBOURNE (Reuters) – A discovery of ancient artefacts on the seabed off Australia’s west coast has actually opened up a brand-new frontier for resource business to look out for in conserving indigenous heritage.
Archaeologists in July reported they had actually found numerous stone tools immersed off the Dampier Archipelago in Western Australia, showing proof of people living in the area when it was dry land more than 7,000 years back.
The two websites are about 5 km (3 miles) east of where Woodside Petroleum WPL.AX, Australia’s leading independent gas manufacturer, prepares to develop a pipeline linking its Scarborough gas field to its Pluto gas plant on the Burrup Peninsula.
The company is speaking with archaeologists included in the Deep History of Sea Nation, which made the discoveries, and the Murujuga Aboriginal Corp (MAC), the indigenous land owners in that region, about its pipeline path.
” We are worried there is potential for submerged heritage to be affected, regardless of whether it has actually been found or is yet to be discovered,” Peter Jeffries, chief executive of MAC, informed Reuters in emailed comments.
” Our company believe an extensive examination of these locations requires to be performed prior to any choice can be made.”
Woodside has long dealt with the Murujuga to maintain rock art websites near its North West Shelf and Pluto LNG plants on the Burrup Peninsula.
Woodside Scarborough gas job off Western Australia
The business stated it identifies there is potential for submerged heritage to exist and has actually done comprehensive archaeology and ethnographic cultural heritage and geotechnical studies onshore and nearshore.
The studies determined one seaside historical site within the Pluto LNG structure lease location which the company said remains undamaged and safeguarded, a Woodside spokesperson stated.
” This is the very first time in Australia that immersed heritage is being considered– for the Scarborough pipeline near coast,” Woodside Chief Executive Peter Coleman told Reuters last month.
The business is speaking to MAC about establishing a cultural heritage management strategy for Scarborough and a dredging and spoil disposal management plan, Woodside’s spokeswoman said.
Archaeology THIN LEGAL PROTECTION
Australia’s indigenous heritage laws came under fire after worldwide miner Rio Tinto RIO.AX RIO.L legally destroyed 2 caverns in the Juukan Gorge in Western Australia which showed evidence of 46,000 years of human habitation.
Undersea, Australian law safeguards shipwrecks and sunken airplane as cultural heritage, but just safeguards submerged indigenous artefacts and websites if a minister determines that they are substantial.
” At the moment, a 75- year-old shipwreck is instantly secured on discovery, but 8,000- year-old evidence of Indigenous cultural heritage is not. This could enable an awful destruction of important heritage, similar to the Juukan Gorge circumstance,” Jeffries stated.
Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association President Andrew McConville said the oil and gas market takes underwater heritage seriously.
The Rio Tinto case has actually raised problems around what the public considers appropriate, stimulating a Senate query into heritage defense.
” We do not require the law to tell us what the best thing to do is. We’re currently doing it,” Coleman stated.
Jonathan Benjamin, leader of the Deep History of Sea Country task, who led the discovers off Western Australia, welcomed Woodside engaging with archaeologists and stated he hoped the oil and gas industry would be more proactive in surveying nearshore locations that were when dry land.
” There’s a big amount of understanding to be discovered on Australia’s seabed around the country. It’s not about one spot.”
Editing by Jacqueline Wong
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