“This place is sacred ground to us,” said archaeologist Scott Franks, an Indigenous man of the Plains clan of Wonnarua. “Some of our people died here – they were gutted. There was fighting in many places throughout the area.”
Some Indigenous oral histories place the Ravensworth massacre on property owned and intended to be mined by Glencore, while others place it further north or have no recollection of the massacre at all. Colonial records and contemporary newspaper accounts provide some details about the 1826 killings but are vague about the location.
“It is a central site in the colonial invasion and related conflicts and violence that resulted from the establishment of this and other lands in the 1820s, which resulted in the deaths of many Wonnarua people as well as some colonists,” compiled a heritage report for the NSW Environmental Defenders Office found by Flinders University Associate Professor Neale Draper.
“Numerous raids and reprisals have taken place on the Ravensworth estate, resulting in the majority of fatalities.”
The NSW Heritage Council, an independent public body, found that the evidence of a massacre at the site was inconclusive but proposed a listing of the heritage site due to its importance to both indigenous and colonial history.
Glencore said that herald It will fight the proposed listing, saying the Monuments Council “does not present a balanced or factual assessment of the importance of the homestead and its surrounding landscape”.
Heritage Council Chairman Frank Howarth said there are avenues the company can pursue as part of the Heritage Listing process to challenge the Heritage Council’s assessment. If the proposal to list cultural heritage were confirmed, it would have to be approved by the Minister for the Environment.
“The Monuments Council considered that the location of this specific massacre was uncertain,” Howarth said. “However, we were convinced that there were undoubtedly border disputes and incidents on the Ravensworth estate.
“It’s important to note that the uncertainty about the specific site does not mean that you can adversely affect the site.”
Glencore said it is reviewing its options, which could potentially include resubmitting amended plans for Glendell mine expansion.
The company is also under some pressure from institutional shareholders over the impact of climate change on the mine.
A group of major international shareholders, along with Australian shareholder Vision Super, submitted a shareholder resolution ahead of Glencore’s annual general meeting in May. It questions the company’s efforts to curb its coal emissions and points to the planned expansion of Glendell.
Glencore said it remains committed to mine expansion and said it would be impossible to do so without relocating the homestead and its outbuildings, which date to 1832.
“Glencore believes the best way to preserve the homestead is to relocate and refurbish it, which would retain some of its character and historical value but breathe new life into it as a repurposed venue,” said a spokesman for the Schweizer mining giants .
Singleton Councilor Tony McNamara, who tabled the motion to have a heritage listing rejected, declined to comment on the situation in detail but said he saw it as the only way to preserve the decaying Ravensworth buildings.
“What I can say is that these are beautiful old buildings and if they are left in place and mining continues, they will be destroyed,” McNamara said.
Singleton Mayor Sue Moore said: “Our understanding is that the massacre did not take place on the Ravensworth site but was quite a distance away… We are always open to new evidence should anything come up, but this is the Council’s view. The best thing for the homestead is that it will be moved.”
A group of business people and local residents in Broke, south of Ravensworth, have suggested the town as a suitable location for the relocated homestead for several years.
An organization called the Broke Village Square Trust was formed, plans drawn up and a petition circulated to rally support. The group was formed independently of Glencore but has received payment from the company for some design work and says a grant from the company would support the operation of the Broke project.
Glencore said it had provided “limited financial support” to the community group but dismissed claims that it had attempted to create artificial grassroots support for the homestead move.
However, it would cover the expected $25 million cost of the move, it said.
The uncertainty surrounding the site has left Indigenous activists like Franks in limbo.
“How can we achieve reconciliation when a foreign mining company does not have time to consider the psychological impact on First Nations people?” Franken said. “It’s disgusting.”
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https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/coal-miner-to-relocate-historic-homestead-and-indigenous-site-for-mine-20230309-p5cqoi.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_national_nsw Glencore is “relocating” an Indigenous site and historic homestead for my mine