Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek says no decision has been made to pause works on a contentious West Australian fertiliser plant.
Traditional owners have asked the Albanese government to stop Perth-based Perdaman from proceeding with development, amid fears pollution from the plant will greatly accelerate the degradation of 40,000 year-old rock art.
Perdaman has state approval to proceed with ground disturbance works for the $4.3 billion project near Karratha in WA’s Pilbara region.
Murujuga custodians Raelene Cooper and Josie Alec wrote to Ms Plibersek this week seeking a 60-day moratorium on works under federal heritage laws.
Indigenous Australians Minister Linda Burney on Thursday said Perdaman had agreed to cease work for 30 days while the application was decided.
But Ms Plibersek contradicted her colleague in a statement on Friday.
“The proponent company … has indicated that works on the site subject to the application will not commence within the next few weeks,” she said.
“I can confirm that I have not reached agreement with either the proponent, those making an application for a section 9 declaration, or any other interested party to the application to pause construction.
“I will carefully consider the application. I have made no decision.”
WA’s Labor government this week reaffirmed its support for the Perdaman project, saying it had received all appropriate environmental and heritage approvals.
Traditional owners have also requested the appointment of a reporter to assess the cultural heritage impacts of industry on the Burrup Peninsula under section 10 of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Heritage Protection Act.
Perdaman has previously said the project will have minimal impact on rock art.
Ms Burney and Ms Plibersek will meet with the Aboriginal Heritage Alliance during the first sitting of parliament, which will resume on July 26.
An application was submitted in 2020 for the Burrup Peninsula to be granted UNESCO world heritage status.