The ACCC is investigating claims that Aboriginal cultural consultants and mining companies have engaged in ‘price fixing’ for services and have destroyed artefacts to make way for new mining projects.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald the competition watchdog had not yet acted on the claims but has asked a number of groups involved to review their work practices.
“Critics say Aboriginal cultural knowledge has been “commodified” and important artefacts and sites are being destroyed to make way for mining developments. However, mining companies insist they have acted properly,” the Sydney Morning Herald reports.
Rio Tinto Coal, Ashton Coal and NuCoal Resources are three of the companies under the ACCC’s spotlight for allegedly fixing the price for Aboriginal Cultural services and only using pre-arranged “registered Aboriginal parties” to conduct field surveys manage any archaeological finds.
The ACCC said such arrangements could be considered “price fixing and market sharing, and would be anti-competitive.”
Registered native title claimant from the Hunter Valley, Scott Franks, told the Sydney Morning Herald that “blow-ins” from outside the area were engaged by mining companies, regardless of their knowledge or qualifications ”
The chief executive of Wanaruah Local Aboriginal Land Council, Noel Downs, denied cartel behaviour was taking place, but claimed some Aboriginal parties were “attempting to corner the market for themselves”.