The OM Manganese mining firm was fined $150,000 for destroying a sacred Aboriginal site in Australia. On Friday, the firm plead guilty to desecrating the site. Magistrate Sue Oliver has now ordered the firm to pay for their carelessness.
As reported by The Australian, the magistrate stated that the firm was more concerned with “business and profit” than preserving the site. OM Manganese CEO, Peter Toth, contends that it was an accident:
“The company never intended to harm, damage, or disrespect the sacred site. We sincerely regret the damage and the hurt caused and I unreservedly apologise to the site’s custodians and traditional owners… it is clear that our pit design and mining activities contributed to the damage at the site.”
Toth further explained that, as soon as the damage was realized, measures were taken to prevent further issues.
Appearing in court, traditional owner Gina Smith explained that the sacred Aboriginal sites are interconnected with “song lines.” The destruction of one site interrupts the flow.
OM Manganese’s mining destroyed the Two Women Sitting Down site. According to legend, the site symbolized two figures, a bandicoot and a marsupial rat. The figures, named Namakili and Napanagka, fought over fruit.
As a result, their blood flowed over the rocks, which explains the deep red coloring of the manganese.
As reported by Fox News, the site was part of the Aboriginal tradition of “dreaming.” Smith explains that the site existed “for thousands of years” and had become an important part of their culture.
She explains that the desecration will disrupt the “dreaming” as the site is no longer intact.
In 1788, there were an estimated one million Aborigines in Australia. Following British settlement, their numbers have continued to decline. Less than 500,000 Aborigines remain.
As Australia’s population has risen to 23 million, the natives have fought to preserve their sacred sites.
Magistrate Oliver’s decision to fine OM Manganese has been called “historical,” and is considered an important victory for the Aborigines.