The Wintawari Guruma Aboriginal Corporation has asked the Supreme Court in Western Australia for a review in the ongoing battle over Ngajanha Marnta, or Spear Hill, in the state’s Pilbara.
WGAC said in a statement the review related to the WA government process that allegedly led to billionaire Andrew Forrest’s Fortescue Metals Group being given permission to impact Aboriginal heritage sites at Ngajanha Marnta to facilitate its $1.5 billion Eliwana mine.
It would focus on a meeting of the WA government advisory body, the Aboriginal Cultural Material Committee.
“We have not taken this action lightly,” WGAC chief executive officer Glen Camile said.
“However the board members of the Wintawari Guruma Aboriginal Corporation have a responsibility to protect and preserve significant Aboriginal heritage for future generations. “We will allege, amongst other things, that the minister’s advisory committee (the ACMC) failed to afford the Wintawari Guruma Aboriginal Corporation procedural fairness by failing to ensure that it had sufficient information as to the significance and importance of the sites.”
A cultural evaluation report for WGAC last month said the Eastern Guruma people used and occupied Ngajanha Marnta for at least 23,000 years.
A Melbourne barrister is also looking into the matter for federal Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg after WGAC asked the Commonwealth to intervene to protect the site.
The report is expected in May.
WA Aboriginal Affairs Minister Ben Wyatt has rejected some of the WGAC claims as petulant, offensive and wrong.
He said this week: “I welcome the Wintawari Guruma Aboriginal Corporation making use of any avenue that is appropriate.
“As is the case with any judicial review, the review shall also identify if there were any failings from the original process.”