Evolution acknowledges the special connection to country that Indigenous people have, and we work together to build constructive and respectful relationships.
As the short-term custodians of the land in which we operate, we respect the role of our First Nation Partners, Traditional Owners and Custodians of the land and consider environmental and Cultural Heritage as both an honour and a responsibility. We value the partnerships we have built and are committed to working together to protect their Cultural Heritage and advance outcomes for First Nation Partners and Indigenous Peoples. Our relationships are integrated into our values driven approach, reflected in our Sustainability Principles and supported by our Sustainability Performance Standards and ongoing practical implementation of these standards.
We believe that Cultural Heritage management should be based in agreement making and collaboration, with Traditional Owners and Custodians given a central role and voice. With input from Traditional Owners and Custodians, we have developed and implemented comprehensive Cultural Heritage management plans to monitor and manage our environmental impacts on Cultural Heritage. This is especially important when our projects are located on land traditionally owned, adjacent to, or under customary use by Indigenous peoples. In these instances, specific engagement is undertaken.
In 2021, to further support this commitment, management created a new Group role to drive the development and implementation of a comprehensive cultural heritage, community and Indigenous relations strategy, framework and risk management.
Cultural Heritage Management Review
The destruction of culturally sensitive land in Australia made many of us in the industry challenge and re-validate our own standards, protocols and processes. We reaffirmed the importance of the protection of Cultural Heritage at all levels of the business. In response to the incident resulting in the destruction of the culturally significant heritage site, Juukan Gorge, Evolution took the following steps:
- Each of our assets reached out to our Traditional Custodians to reaffirm our commitment to protecting Cultural Heritage and also checked if there were any concerns ß Renewed focus on education across the business, including progressing the planning of Cultural Competency sessions for leadership teams in the first instance
- Reviewed our existing Cultural Heritage standards and related audit findings to evaluate if we had the correct processes and systems to support our ongoing commitment to the protection of Cultural Heritage and as trusted partners
- Reaffirmed our commitment through increased communications at all locations
- Delivered a brief outlining the impact of the destruction of Juukan Gorge and key findings from the ‘Juukan Gorge Interim Report’ to Evolution’s Board, Management and site management; the brief included an overview of the next steps to ensure learnings from this interim report are integrated into planning and management
- Conducted specific discussions with the Site General Managers and teams to reinforce our values and expectations ß Developed specific First Nation Engagement Plans that considered Cultural Awareness across the business ß Added Cultural Heritage to our Quarterly Environmental Assurance audits as an added layer of governance
Evolution’s nine Sustainability Principles are closely aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals with one Principle focusing on ‘Advancing the outcomes for Indigenous Peoples and protect their Cultural Heritage’. We have developed a set of Social Responsibility Performance Standards that sit within the Sustainability Performance Standards. Sections 5.1 and 5.2 of the Social Responsibility Performance Standards outline performance requirements related to planning, performance and review of Cultural Heritage management and Traditional Custodians and First Nation engagement. Each of our projects and assets undergo regular sustainability audit and assurance programs that assess performance against these standards and identify opportunities for improvement. Sustainability audits conducted in FY21, highlighted good alignment across all our assets in understanding and implementation of the Social Responsibility Performance Standards. The results of our 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, each of our operations has a dedicated Community Relations team that liaises with our Traditional Custodians and First Nation Partners and oversee the relationship agreements in place. Our Australian and Canadian operations and exploration projects operate under Collaboration Agreements, Native Title Agreements, Cultural Heritage Agreements and/or Exploration Agreements with our First Nation Partners. These agreements are negotiated in good faith, fairly and equitably and ensure we work in partnership with Traditional Custodians and First Nation Partners to support opportunities that promote and support self-determination including:
- Enabling them to maintain, control, protect and develop their Cultural Heritage, traditional knowledge and cultural expressions. These can include Cultural Heritage Management Plans which prescribes 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 across sites
- Supporting the improvement and sustainability of their social and economic conditions including negotiated royalties or consideration to employment and training opportunities and awareness of business opportunities that may arise within the operational footprint
Each asset is 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 our stakeholders and to the Board.
The Board Risk and Sustainability Committee meet and review our Environment, Social and Safety performance on a quarterly basis. Cultural Heritage impact or material changes are included in the Board update and open for discussion and review.
During FY21, there were no material Cultural Heritage Incidents.
Identiﬁcation of Stone Artefacts at Drummond
Integrated Cultural Heritage Management at Mungari