We support the preservation of Indigenous and Tribal Peoples’ cultural heritage. We recognise and respect sites, places, structures and objects that are culturally or traditionally significant.

We conduct heritage surveys in consultation with communities to identify and protect areas and objects of significance. Governed by our community and environment standards, we ensure our governance processes and cultural heritage approvals meet legal and stakeholder requirements. Our work is supported by cultural awareness training of our employees, which is tailored to the local context at each location. 

In Australia, we engage with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples across our operations to ensure we understand our commitments to manage cultural areas of significance. Our operations and projects intersect many areas of cultural significance such as anthropological sites which have spiritual importance, and significant waterways with links to Dreamtime stories shared by the Traditional Owners.

Our internal processes to manage cultural heritage are integrated across the business so that site work programs take account of areas of cultural significance and the views of traditional and local communities. In 2020, we reviewed our approach to cultural heritage management to determine where we may need to develop and improve systems and processes.  It is important for cultural heritage and mining to co-exist in Australia and we are committed to working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, the government and industry to achieve the best outcomes.

Our policies and standards

Our governance processes and cultural heritage approvals are outlined in our Standards, which define performance requirements for our operations. Our Standards are implemented at each operation by relevant site-based subject matter experts, including members of the operation’s leadership team. The implementation of our standards is governed through a three lines of defence model which includes periodic self-assessments, stewardship reviews and assurance activities. 

Our governance

Members of our senior leadership team are accountable for maintaining and reviewing our Community and Environment Standards, which define performance requirements for cultural heritage management. These Standards are approved by the Chief Executive Officer. 

At each site, the Vice President of Operations is accountable for fulfilling the requirements of the Standards, supported by our community relations and environmental personnel. 

The South32 Board has oversight of our relationships with Indigenous Peoples and cultural heritage management through: 

 

  • Quarterly community report to the Board Sustainability Committee; 
  • Annual review and approval of our Sustainable Development Report; 
  • Annual update on Reconciliation Action Plan implementation; and
  • Special briefings on material risks and issues.

The Board visit a number of South32 sites each year and in doing so engage with Indigenous and Tribal Peoples with the aim of increasing their understanding, appreciation and recognition of Indigenous laws, traditions, customs, and their distinct spiritual relationship and connection to their traditionally owned or occupied lands through cultural learning. 

Our cultural heritage management work is supported by cultural awareness training and competency training for our employees, which is tailored to the local context at each location.