A mining company operating in Western Australia's north has falsely claimed it had the consent of the Kimberley Land Council for works, the Council says.
On Monday Kimberley Mineral Sands issued a statement that WA's Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage had confirmed all necessary Aboriginal heritage approvals are in place at the Thunderbird Minerals Sands Project and that ground-disturbing and clearing works are now set to commence on a waste rock storage area.
The statement also claimed "KMS has two Section 18 approvals in place under the Aboriginal Heritage Act 1972 to address an ethnographic Registered Heritage Place over the full mining lease area. These approvals were issued with the consent of the Kimberley Land Council and JbAC (Joombarn-buru Aboriginal Corporation).
Kimberley Land Council CEO Tyronne Garstone told National Indigenous Times that the Council had not given consent.
"There is a comment in there that says KLC gave consent for the Section 18 notice. We did not give consent for that," he said.
"The media statement to the ASX is incorrect. We did not consent.
"We said that if the company adhered to the coexistence agreement (with the relevant Traditional Owners), spoke to the right people and had the appropriate people conduct the heritage surveys, that would be necessary for the Section 18 approvals. Their statement did not give that context."
National Indigenous Times contacted Kimberley Mineral Sands and the office of Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Tony Buti for comment.
On Tuesday morning, Kimberley Mineral Sands' Chief Executive Officer Stuart Pether told National Indigenous Times that the company "wishes to correct the previous media statement that included the following reference to the Kimberley Land Council: 'These approvals were issued with the consent of the Kimberley Land Council and JbAC.'".
"The KLC did not provide consent to the Section 18 approvals, but provided advice that the mechanism of engagement with the Traditional Owners at the time was appropriate. KMS apologises to the KLC for any misrepresentation this statement has created and acknowledges that the KLC did not consent to the Section 18 Approvals," he said.
In response to other questions, Mr Pether said the Thunderbird Project Co-existence Agreement (TPCA) between Joombarn-buru Aboriginal Corporation and Kimberley Mineral Sands "provides a process by which JbAC is requested to provide heritage monitors to observe land clearing activities; if JbAC are not able to provide heritage monitors the TPCA allows for the activities to take place".
"KMS first approached the Joombarn Buru Traditional Owners in early October 2023 and
provided full details of the works and requesting heritage monitors to be present in-line
with the Thunderbird Project Coexistence Agreement. KMS has made extensive
approaches to the Traditional Owners during this period to provide heritage monitors," he said.
"All identified sites have been protected with both physical barriers and through the KMS
mapping system, in addition to heritage exclusion zones agreed under the TPCA."