Burrup Conservation Agreement
In 2007, Rio Tinto supported the inclusion of the Dampier Archipelago including the Burrup Peninsula on the National Heritage list, in recognition of its outstanding rock art values. The listing covers approximately 300 square kilometres of the Dampier Archipelago land area which includes a significant portion of Rio Tinto's iron ore and Dampier Salt leases.
The Dampier Archipelago has one of the largest and most diverse concentrations of rock art (petroglyphs) in the world, with an estimated one million engravings. Dating back tens of thousands of years, the petroglyphs comprise images of fauna - avian, marine and terrestrial, humans and human activities and geometric designs. The area is also characterised by stone features, camp sites, quarries and shell middens. As an outcome of the National Heritage listing, Rio Tinto signed a Conservation Agreement with the Australian Government formalising our long-term commitment to protecting and managingand promoting the rock art on the Burrup Peninsula. This included the establishment of a fund to advance the understanding and preservation of the rock art itself and its historical and cultural value.
As part of the agreement, Rio Tinto has committed funds for a period of ten years to:
- Identifying all sites with National Heritage Values.
- Presenting and transmitting information about the National Heritage Values.
- Managing National Heritage Values to ensure the values are conserved for future generations.
- Researching and monitoring the National Heritage Values.
Key projects underway
- An annual rock art field school organised with the University of Western Australia and Aboriginal Traditional Owners at selected sites on the Burrup Peninsula.
- Sponsorship of a coffee table book entitled Burrup Rock Art - Ancient Aboriginal Rock Art of Burrup Peninsula and Dampier Archipelago by Mike Donaldson
- Providing heritage awareness and procedures training to all Rio Tinto staff and contractors working on the Burrup Peninsula.
- Ongoing program of rock art site cataloguing and management led by Rio Tinto heritage specialist Ken Mulvaney.
- In April 2011 Rio Tinto also announced with Univerity of Western Australia (UWA) the sponsorship of the Rio Tinto Chair of Rock Art Studies and the appointment of leading Australian rock art specialist UWA professor Jo McDonald to the position. The role will ensure that the heritage values of the Burrup Peninsula are further researched and recorded leading to an increased understanding of the significance of the cultural heritage values of the area.