10 May 2023

From little things big things grow

| Cape York Weekly
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THE first rehabilitation work has begun at Rio Tinto’s Amrun mine, making a significant milestone for the site which first began mining in 2018.

Late last year, Traditional Owners and Rio Tinto representatives celebrated the achievement with the ceremonial planting of the first seedlings and return of original topsoil to the site.

Uncle Tony Kerindun, a senior Wik-Waya Traditional Owner, planted the very first seedling, followed by members of his and other families from the area.

The seedlings were grown in the Land and Rehabilitation nursery at Weipa, using overstory Stringybark and Bloodwood seeds collected on-lease at Kwokkunum and Amrun over the past two years.

The rehabilitation block and freshly turned topsoil were recently prepared by ploughing and direct seeding, using the same overstory seeds, alongside understory seeds collected as part of the community seed collection program.

“It was a privilege to be a part of this day, where we begin this journey alongside the Traditional Owners,” said Michelle Elvy, Rio Tinto’s general manager of bauxite operations.

“The call out to country by Uncle Tony felt almost like a welcome home for the land now that the first topsoil has been returned.

“It truly reflects just how special it is that the seeds used to regenerate these lands, were collected by Traditional Owners on local country.”

Ms Elvy said the rehabilitation process would continue annually at Amrun for the entire life of the mine and beyond, ensuring the return of species of both environmental and cultural value to previously mined areas.

Ongoing monitoring by the land and rehabilitation team will ensure that all areas are returned to the most natural state possible, referenced against the surrounding natural areas.

“This has been a journey that has seen heavy involvement from Traditional Owners, in collaboration with our teams on the ground,” said Lachy Johnson, the superintendent of Rio Tinto Weipa’s Land and Rehabilitation team.

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