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Federal Govt halts Pilbara urea plant works amid Indigenous heritage concerns

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Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek has reached an agreement for a 30-day halt to the development of a Western Australian fertiliser plant that a group of Indigenous activists say threatens ancient rock art.

Indigenous Australians Minister Linda Burney confirmed Ms Plibersek had sought assurances from Perth-based Perdaman that work would be halted until a decision on a 60-day work embargo was made.

"Perdaman has agreed to cease work while the application is being decided," Ms Burney told the ABC.

Perdaman last week received state approval to proceed with ground disturbance works for the $4.3 billion project on Murujuga country, near Karratha, in WA's Pilbara region.

Traditional owners in Western Australia have asked the Albanese government to stop the development amid fears pollution from the plant will greatly accelerate the degradation of 40,000 year-old rock art.

Murujuga custodians Raelene Cooper and Josie Alec wrote to the two ministers seeking a 60-day moratorium on works under federal heritage laws.

They also requested the appointment of a reporter to assess the cultural heritage impacts of industry on the Burrup Peninsula under section 10 of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act.

Perdaman has previously said the project will have minimal impact on rock art.

Ms Burney and Ms Plibersek will meet with the Aboriginal Heritage Alliance during the first sitting of parliament, which will resume on July 26.

Story by Dominic Giannini, AAP

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