Older than the Pyramids & still under threat – #australia #indigenous rock carvings – FARA: Information Update – April 2012

Friends of Australian Rock Art (FARA)

Information Update
April 2012



Ammonium Nitrate Production On The Burrup

There was no such thing as a Christmas break at FARA this year. In the days leading up to Christmas, Apache Energy began moves to purchase a stake in Burrup Holdings and join with the other major stakeholder, Yara International, to reinvigorate Burrup Fertilisers and a proposal to build a Technical Ammonium Nitrate Production Facility (TANPF) on the Burrup. Burrup Holdings originally proposed this plant when Pankaj Oswal was still riding high and the new facility was planned for a site immediately to the north east of the fertiliser plant. This site is less than 2km from the magnificent rock art at Deep Gorge. Go to ‘Reports’ at www.rockart.net.au for a site map.

Apart from the destruction that is an inevitable part of any development in the area, FARA believes that the emissions from the TANPF may pose a major threat to the rock art. We have been pressing for more testing and analysis to be done to determine the real impact of emissions. Our member Dr John Black has been diligent in reviewing the science quoted in the development proposals and has outlined his concerns about the conclusions that have been drawn in a paper that is available at ‘Reports’ at www.rockart.net.au. Despite this, the original proposal received the go ahead from both the WA Minister for the Environment, Bill Marmion and the Federal Minister for the Environment, Tony Burke.

When Apache announced its intentions, FARA moved quickly to secure a pre-Christmas meeting with Apache Energy’s Managing Director, Tom Maher and expressed our dismay at their plans. In 2006 Apache made much of its decision to develop its natural gas plant away from the Burrup Peninsula in recognition of the area’s extreme heritage significance. In the face of a discontinuation of Apache’s sale of gas to Burrup Holdings Apache Energy stepped in to make a bid to the receivers of Burrup Holdings.

By February 1 Yara International and Apache Energy announced their intention to form Yara Pilbara to develop the TANPF with the disaster-prone Orica Ltd as their marketing arm; Yara owning 51% (production), Orica 39% (marketing) and Apache 10% (facilitator).

In response to this development FARA has:

  • Written to the Premier Colin Barnett and State Ministers – Castrilli, Marmion, Grylls
  • Written to the national and international press
  • Written to the Boards and CEOs of Yara International and Apache Energy
  • Met with the Chairman of the EPA
  • Met with advisors of federal Minister for the Environment, Tony Burke
  • Worked with Fremantle MP Melissa Parke to organise a meeting with federal Minister for the Environment, Tony Burke (we have just been advised that he will meet with us)
  • Secured a meeting with Yara Pilbara for late in April
  • Met with the Shadow Minister for State Development in WA, Bill Johnston

At this stage it seems clear that if the companies are able to raise the funds required, the project will go ahead, although we will continue our advocacy. Our one consolation is that the federal government’s Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act (EPBC Act), has placed the following conditions on their approval, which may help to mitigate the damage and, at the very least, will encourage a greater understanding of the impact of emissions.

This is a summarised version of the conditions, which can be read in full at ‘Reports’ at www.rockart.net.au:

  • A heritage monitor must be employed
  • All rock art sites within 2km of the plant are to be monitored
  • Any effects on the rock art must be reported within 72 hours
  • Air quality monitoring stations are to be set up at three sites, the water tanks, Deep Gorge, Burrup Road. Initial baseline monitoring for 24 months (ammonia, NOX, SOX and particles) for four times/year and for the following 5 years
  • An independent company will check colour contrast, mineralogy etc. for the baseline 24 months and the next 5 years. This is to be paid for by the TAN plant
  • If effects are noted the report must include mitigation plans and rectifying proposals
  • All information must be published on the company’s website
  • The minister can change any of these conditions at any time

Australian Heritage Council Report

As many of you are aware, last year the federal Minister for the Environment instructed the Australian Heritage Council to undertake an emergency assessment of the Dampier Archipelago to look at the outstanding universal values of the site and any threats to it. The report has been delivered to the Minister and it reinforces the extent to which the Dampier Archipelago meets criteria for World Heritage Listing. It makes fascinating reading and is available under ‘Reports’ at www.rockart.net.au

We are very hopeful that this will add pressure to the need for tentative listing for World Heritage. However, we understand that the State Government should initiate listing and that the Federal Government may be reluctant to move without the backing of the State. We are looking forward to an opportunity to discuss this further with Minister Burke and we have sought an urgent meeting with Premier Colin Barnett.

2012 Burrup (Murujuga) Tour

The Burrup (Murujuga) Tour is on again so get those bookings in! This year’s Tour is between August 11-19, which gives an extra day on the Burrup. Tour Coordinator June Moorhouse is working on some new developments that will hopefully offer more opportunities for participants to connect with the local Aboriginal community and gain a greater cultural insight to the Burrup. Our fantastic (voluntary!) guides will be back – Robin Chapple, Ken Mulvaney and Gary Slee will be sharing their prodigious knowledge with all. If you haven’t been, make this the year. If you have, encourage friends to come and learn about the magnificent heritage in Australia’s own backyard.
For bookings and information, contact June Moorhouse:
0418 920 435

Stand Up With FARA At May Day March

FARA will be Standing Up For the Burrup at the May Day march on Sunday May 6 in Fremantle. We welcome anyone who wants to strengthen our numbers and make their voices heard. We will have a stall on the Esplanade Park throughout the morning and will participate in the traditional march at midday. To join us, come and find us at Esplanade Park on Marine Tce in Fremantle by 11:30am. If you are able to help with the stall, please contact June Moorhouse:

National Activity

There have been a couple of proposals to develop support groups for Burrup Rock Art in other states in recent times. FARA welcomes support for the cause and is open to working with any group that shares its desire for the protection and recognition of Burrup Rock Art. We hope that some of you who are not near our Perth activity will take advantage of any initiatives that start up in your state. We’ll keep you posted.


Co-convenor Alex Leach has been working hard on the new website www.rockart.net.au Take a moment to check it out and send us feedback or suggestions!

Project Officer

June Moorhouse has been our Project Officer for just over 12 months now but is stepping away to give more time to other things. Happily, she will remain our Tour Coordinator and an active Committee Member. Our thanks to June for her contribution. We are in the process of securing other support to improve FARA’s administrative and promotional capacity. We’ll keep you posted on these developments (hopefully a little more often!)

FARA Committe Members Judith Hugo, Co-convenor
Alex Leach, Co-convenor
Jenny Laker, Treasurer
June Moorhouse, Tour Coordinator
Julianne Waldock, Minute Taker
Linda Du Boulay
Pam Heald
Peter Lloyd
Peter Schultz
Peter Shannon
Kaye Shanley
Remi Vignals

A Last Word

We seem to be managing two updates a year (April and November), even though there is constant activity in the camp! If you ever want to know what’s going on, please check the website (contact or join us at one of our fortnightly Tuesday evening meetings.

The committee,
Friends of Australian Rock Art

Friends of Australian Rock Art Inc.

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