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The Power of Indigenous Peoples in Decision-Making Processes of Mining Projects: The Pilbara Region

Authors: K. N. Penna, J. P. English


The destruction of the Juukan Gorge rock shelters in 2020 has catalysed impetus within Australian society for a significant change in engagement with Indigenous Peoples, and the approach to Indigenous cultural heritage, both within the Pilbara region and more broadly across Australia. Culture-based and people-centred approaches are inherent to inclusive sustainable development and Free, Prior, Informed Consent, outcomes encouraged by international and local recommendations on the human rights and cultural heritage preservation of Indigenous peoples. In this paper, we present an interpretive model of an evolved process for mining project development, incorporating culture-based and people-centred approaches, based on the Theory U system change method. The evolved process advocates a change in organisational mindset and culture, and a comprehensive understanding of Indigenous Peoples’ culture and values, as the foundations for increasing their influence and achieving mutually beneficial developments.

Keywords: Indigenous Engagement, mining industry, culture-based approach, people-centred approach, Theory U.

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