According to West Australian Aboriginal Affairs Minister Ben Wyatt, mining companies responsible for contaminating Wittenoom should take the lead in cleaning it up. This follows a similar demand from Banjima elders, the traditional owners of Wittenoom and surrounding lands.
Wyatt Says Companies Should Contribute to Cleanup Costs
Mining companies that profited from operating in Wittenoom should ideally be supporting cleanup efforts, says Wyatt. “I suspect […] it’s usually the broader taxpayer that’s left with the bill as companies appear very reluctant to pick up the obligations that they should meet on a moral as opposed to a legal basis,” he laments. The companies in question include industrial giant CSR, which bought the initial mining operations established by Lang Hancock and Peter Wright.
While it is almost impossible that Wittenoom will become habitable again, Wyatt says that it may still be possible to remediate areas that are culturally important to the Banjima people. “Regardless of what I do, laws I pass, fences I put up,” he says, “the Banjima people will still go onto that country.”
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Hancock’s daughter Gina Rinehart has said that Hancock Prospecting and Wright Prospecting were not involved in CSR mining operations. He also added that Rinehart did not inherit anything from her father’s estate.
CSR itself has not responded to calls for comment.