As the short-term custodians of the land in which we operate, we respect the rights and role of First Nation Partners and Indigenous Peoples and consider environmental and cultural heritage as an honour and responsibility. We value our partnerships and are committed to working together to identify, protect and preserve Indigenous cultural heritage. We commit to preserving and promoting our First Nation Partners and Indigenous Peoples’ history, culture, and outcomes.
Our nine Sustainability Principles represent Evolution’s prioritised UN Sustainable Development Goals with one Principle focusing on ‘Advancing the outcomes for Indigenous Peoples and protecting their cultural heritage’. The Cultural Heritage and First Nations Social Responsibility Performance Standards outline performance requirements related to planning, performance and review of cultural heritage management and Traditional Custodians and First Nation Peoples engagement.
Protecting Indigenous and historical cultural heritage is a critical element of our management practices. Prior to any development, we conduct archaeological and ethnographic assessments to ensure Traditional Owners are identified and cultural and heritage rights are
protected. Where there is significant archaeological and cultural heritage present in or around the operations, we have Cultural Heritage Management Plans.
These include avoidance of disturbing significant sites, or, if unavoidable, minimising impacts and appropriately relocate or excavate any sites. Artefacts uncovered during project activities are recorded, documented and submitted to the appropriate Government Department. We work closely and frequently with our First Nation Partners to identify and preserve cultural heritage sites and to incorporate Traditional Knowledge studies where appropriate. We also incorporate cultural awareness and the customs and traditions of the local communities in
our site induction training, and we support activities to promote the culture of the host communities. In addition, we ensure that cultural sites are identified in the impact assessments and marked on maps so that they are not destroyed or damaged by our activities.
Each project and operation undergo regular Sustainability audit and assurance programs that assess performance against these standards and identify opportunities for improvement. The FY23 Sustainability Assurance program highlighted good alignment across all assets in understanding and implementation of the Social Responsibility Performance Standards. The results of the audits for all operations provide Evolution with greater assurance that current governance practices are adequate to ensure the protection of Cultural Heritage, relationships and values.
As outlined in the Social Responsibility Performance Standards, the site Environment and Social Responsibility teams liaise with the First Nation Partners and Indigenous Peoples and oversee the relationship agreements in place. Australian and Canadian operations and exploration projects operate under Collaboration Agreements, Native Title Agreements, Cultural Heritage Agreements and/or Exploration Agreements. They are negotiated with our First Nation Partners and Indigenous Peoples in good faith, fairly and equitably towards mutually beneficial outcomes and ensure we work in partnership to support opportunities that promote self-determination including:
- Enabling them to maintain, control, protect and develop their tangible and intangible Cultural Heritage, traditional knowledge and cultural
expressions. For example, Cultural Heritage Management Plans prescribe all reasonable steps to be taken when undertaking operational or exploration activity that has the potential to uncover or disturb cultural heritage. Heritage Agreements may also have provisions to promote Cultural Awareness Training
- Supporting the improvement and sustainability of their social and economic conditions including negotiated royalties, compensation, or consideration to employment and training opportunities and awareness of business opportunities within the operational footprint
- In Canada, agreements with First Nation Partners outline mutual commitments and responsibilities to engage and consult on cultural resource surveys, and identifications of culturally sensitive sites, among many other environmental provisions. The agreements provide substantive avenues for Indigenous Nations to discuss with Evolution regarding environmental matters, from the earliest stages of the projects to closure and reclamation
Each asset and project are required to maintain documentary evidence of the status of actions, implementation and achievement against an agreed commitment. Any cultural heritage near misses or incidents must be immediately reported to enable a review of any incident or near miss to ensure we understand, learn and widely communicate findings from the frontline, with the stakeholders and to the Board. Cultural heritage impact or material changes are included in the Risk and Sustainability Committee Report as a standing report item for discussion and review.
During FY23, there were no new significant sites identified through work conducted by Evolution. Information regarding these sites is shared with the Traditional Owners, and where required in law, with the relevant government departments. Section 18 of the Aboriginal Heritage
Act 9WA enables land users to seek consent to disturb Aboriginal sites if it is deemed such impact is unavoidable. Evolution is maintaining a watching brief on the Western Australian Aboriginal Cultural Heritage legislation. In FY23, Evolution sought no Section 18 clearances for Mungari, our Western Australia asset.
Identiﬁcation of Stone Artefacts at Drummond
Murals at Mungari