Australia’s Environment Ministry has approved construction of a $3.1bn (A$4.5bn) fertiliser plant following discussions with traditional owners about its possible effect on old indigenous rock art, reported Reuters.

The ministry dismissed the objections raised by some indigenous women, and supported the local indigenous representative group to give clearance for the construction of the plant.

Last month, two Murujuga women urged the government to prohibit Perdaman Chemicals and Fertilisers from constructing a urea plant on the Burrup Peninsula in Western Australia under a law safeguarding indigenous heritage.

Burrup Peninsula has over a million rock carvings, with some of them dating to back around 40,000 years old.

These carvings have been nominated for a UNESCO World Heritage listing.

Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek said the Murujuga Aboriginal Corp (MAC) has made deals with Perdaman on the suitable cultural treatment of the sites, including shifting some of the rock art.

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The two women, who wanted to stop construction of the urea plant, were from a group called Save our Songlines.

According to them, their concerns were not represented by MAC and its Circle of Elders.

MAC was a representative organisation for five traditional owner groups in the area.

Save our Songlines spokeswomen Raelene Cooper and Josie Alec said: “The community, the country and the whole world will be outraged if this leads to another Juukan Gorge because the federal government would not stand up to industry and protect sacred Aboriginal sites from further desecration”.

In 2020, global miner Rio Tinto destroyed Juukan Gorge, an ancient cave, for an iron ore mine, leading to public outrage.


Image: Burrup Peninsula has over a million rock carvings. Credit: Tradimus/