An Indigenous group has expressed “profound disappointment” about plans to disturb heritage sites in WA. 

The Wintawari Guruma Aboriginal Corporation (WGAC) has responded to Equinox Resources' recent move to seek government approval for disturbing Aboriginal sites in the Pilbara region. 

Equinox has lodged an Aboriginal Heritage Act Section 18 application, aimed at advancing its Hamersley Iron Ore Project next to the Karijini National Park.

Equinox finds itself at loggerheads with WGAC over its plans to commence drilling operations that threaten two Aboriginal heritage sites. 

The application is seen as a test of the state's revised heritage protection laws, which underwent significant reform following widespread criticism after the destruction of Juukan Gorge in 2020.

“The Eastern Guruma people have not experienced this level of disrespect toward their cultural heritage from a mining company for more than a decade,” a WGAC spokesperson has told reporters. 

Despite WGAC's efforts to thwart the project, including an online petition amassing over 15,000 signatures, Equinox maintains that its actions are in line with a native title agreement signed in 2014. 

The company has denied claims of inadequate consultation, noting its notification to WGAC and its intention to proceed with the application as per the existing agreement and legal framework.

“Our goal is to work together in a way that respects the heritage and culture of the landowners while also delivering on the Hamersley Iron Ore Project for our shareholders,” says Equinox's CEO, Zac Komur.

The application now awaits assessment by the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Committee, which will advise the Aboriginal Affairs Minister on whether to permit the disturbance of the identified heritage sites.