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Heritage

As part of Alcoa’s bauxite mining operations in the Jarrah Forest, an Noongar heritage program has been developed to minimise the impact of these operations on Noongar cultural values. The traditional owners of the land, the Noongar people, seasonally used the land in what is now Alcoa’s mineral lease for at least forty thousand years. The Jarrah Forest was used for hunting, travel to and from the semi-arid zone and coastal plain, and for cultural activities. Alcoa’s Noongar heritage program has been ongoing since the late 1990s and activities undertaken as part of the Noongar heritage program can be broken into three major areas:
 
Pre-mining Noongar Heritage Surveys 
 
Pre-mining Noongar heritage surveys are undertaken ahead of mining operations when a crusher move is imminent.  As crusher regions are in the order of 10,000 ha, it is not possible to survey all areas that will be disturbed by mining.  A model has therefore been developed to predict where significant Noongar sites are likely to be located. Several types of Noongar heritage sites have been encountered in Alcoa’s mining lease including artefact scatters (tools and tool making items), gnamma hole (rock cavity that holds water), modified tree (tree with bark or limbs removed to make baskets or shields), quarry (location where stone is used to maufacture artefacts) and lizard traps (rock assembled to attract reptiles). Surveys involve archaeological consultants and a minimum of four Noongar people (two elders and two trainees).
 
Noongar Heritage Predictive Model 
 
The Noongar Heritage Predictive Model was originally developed in 1999.  The aim of the model is to use possible relationships between environmental variables and site location to predict the location of significant Noongar sites.  The first models were derived in 2001 and 2002.  The model is currently being used successfully in the Myara crusher region (part of the Huntly mine).
 
Noongar Heritage Surveys in Informal Reserves 
 
Alcoa has committed to undertake heritage surveys of any Informal Reserves that are proposed to be disturbed as part of its mining operations. These are generally haul roads crossing streamzones. A number of haul road alignments have been moved to avoid significant sites identified during these surveys.
 
If any significant sites are located, they are avoided. All sites identified in the Alcoa surveys are sent to the Department of Indigenous Affairs and added to their site register. Alcoa has developed an aboriginal heritage training package that is part of the environmental induction undertaken by any new employees that work in the bush. Regular refreshers are also undertaken.
 

An aboriginal heritage survey trainee

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An aboriginal heritage survey trainee and an Environmental Scientist search the ground for small artefacts.

Small artifacts

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Small artefacts such as this are taken into account when searching for old aboriginal heritage locations. These type of artefacts mark locations where Aboriginal once gathered. If significant sites are found, mining operations will avoid the area so as not to disturb its significant heritage value.