Federal Minister for Environment called to act urgently to protect Aboriginal heritage on the site of the proposed Glendell Continued Operations Project near Singleton

The Federal Minister for Environment and Sustainability Susan Ley has received a written request to urgently protect Aboriginal heritage on land marked for the expansion of an open cut mine near Singleton.

Glencore currently have plans being assessed by the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE) on the future expansion of their Glendell open cut mine at Ravensworth.

Known as the Glendell Continuation Project it will extend the life of the company's existing mine until 2044 with Glencore saying the project will provide ongoing employment of 600 workers and inject millions of dollars into the local and state economy as well as provide millions of dollars in state mining royalties.

However the expanded mining operations will involve the need to relocate the historic Ravenworth Homestead as the coal reserves sit under the homestead complex and much of the surrounding land.

A report now with the DPIE that was prepared on behalf of the Plains Clans of the Wonnarua People Corporation (PCWP) has highlighted the significant importance of the proposed mine area to the Wonnarua peoples.

Therefore two representatives of the PCWP its chairperson Robert Lester and registered native title claimant Scott Franks have called on Minister Ley under section 9 of the Commonwealth Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Protection Act (1984) to protect the site from mining.

Under the same Act section 10 they want Minister Ley to provide permanent protection of the site.

In their letter to the Minister they state that the recently completed Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Assessment Report on the PCWP Cultural Values (prepared by Associate Professor Neale Draper June 2020) clearly shows how vital the site is to their Wonnarua people.

It is described as a conflict site where the massacre of Wonnarua people took place in addition to being a ceremonial site.

"The land was used for thousands of years and is one of a few places in Wonnarua country that can demonstrate ongoing occupation and use by a hunter-gatherer society," the letter says.

"Loss of our country in the Hunter Valley exceeds 95 per cent due to agriculture and mining."

The letter says the current generation of Wonnarua peoples need to preserve this land for future generations so the story lines can flow throughs the creeks and watercourses that the mining company plans to divert.

It is spiritual place and we need to protect it for our ancestors who died on this land.

Area that has been requested to be protected under Commonwealth Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Protection Act (1984). Photo supplied.

Area that has been requested to be protected under Commonwealth Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Protection Act (1984). Photo supplied.