National Indigenous Times: Sacred sites watchdog to probe damage allegations at Beetaloo Basin gas project

June 30, 2022 12:36 PM

The Top End’s Aboriginal heritage watchdog will probe alleged damage to a sacred site during mining exploration amid heated legal action between a gas company, cattle barons and an activist native title group.

On Thursday Tamboran Resources confirmed it had not stopped approved civil works at Rallen Australia’s Tanumbirini Cattle Station in the Beetaloo Basin, despite claims to the contrary from opponents.

It comes after Nurrdalinji Native Title Aboriginal Corporation on Tuesday alleged Sweetpea Petroleum, a subsidiary of Tamboran, had damaged a culturally significant songline at Newcastle Creek while building a track.

The Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority has arranged to conduct a compliance audit at Tanumbirini on July 5.

An AAPA spokesperson confirmed they had issued an order to protect sacred sites at Tanumbirini Station, which remained in force.

“Authority certificates set out the conditions under which proposed work near sacred sites may be carried out,” she said.

“Failure to comply with the conditions set out in an authority certificate is an offence under the Sacred Sites Act.”

Nurrdalinji wrote to Tamboran, the AAPA and the Northern Land Council this week expressing concern.

Nurrdalinji chair Johnny Wilson said damage to the creek showed a lack of respect.

“We ask Sweetpea to stop further work so we can meet and discuss the consequences of what has happened, together with custodians, the Aboriginal Areas Protection Authority and the Northern Land Council,” he said.

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