This week Palyku native title claimants and Hancock Prospecting announced an agreement over the company’s proposed heavy haulage rail line to connect their Roy Hill project with Port Hedland.
The agreement provides financial and non-financial benefits, including payments to be used for protecting and managing the cultural heritage values relating to the Woodstock Abydos Reserve, one of the richest rock art centres in the world.
“In the negotiations, we made it clear that we don’t want any of our special places to be disturbed,” said Terry Jaffrey, a Palyku elder. “Hancock has agreed to avoid all sacred sites, and to provide funds to protect the Woodstock Abydos heritage listed area.”
The agreement also specifies a portion of the financial benefits to be used for an employment, training and education program and a Health and Elderly Support Fund. These programs are in addition to Hancock’s commitment to implement a Pilbara Indigenous Employment policy, and provide contracting preferences for Pilbara Indigenous companies.
“To us it’s a very important place,” said Jaffrey. “I spent most of my time over the last decade dealing with mining companies, looking after it, and I’ll keep on looking after it. That’s why we have to work with Hancock to make sure they don’t disturb anything. It’s very important to me and to our children’s children.”
This agreement with the Palyku people is the latest to be signed by Hancock over its rail corridor, which will affect several native title claims.