In October last year, BHP submitted a section 18 application related to development activity for the South Flank mine, following extensive consultation with the Banjima people over 15 years. Approval was granted by the Minister on 29 May 2020.
We take a sustainable approach to our mining operations and work in partnership with traditional owners to ensure that each stage of development is informed by their views. This ongoing commitment is central to our land use agreements.
We will not disturb the sites identified without further extensive consultation with the Banjima people. That consultation will be based on our commitment to understanding the cultural significance of the region and on the deep respect we have for the Banjima people and their heritage. This will include further scientific study and discussion on mitigation and preservation. We have a strong relationship with the Banjima community built over more than 20 years of engagement and consultation in the Pilbara. This relationship is of fundamental importance to our organisation.
Section 18 consents are one part of the company’s broader approach to heritage management. In addition to consulting with traditional owners as part of regulatory approvals, the agreement making process provides a framework for traditional owners to identify, map and agree on those areas that require the greatest protections. We seek to avoid, minimise and manage heritage impacts co-operatively with traditional owners. We support the West Australian Government’s review and reform of the Aboriginal Heritage Act and we will continue to actively engage in that process.