The state government has awarded a new contract to monitor industrial emissions on 47,000-year-old rock art in Western Australia’s north after the first company awarded the $7 million job was dismissed for breach of contract.
Sydney-based Calibre will partner with technical experts from Curtin University, Art Care and ChemCentre, who were already involved.
Calibre was one of two parties in the original joint venture, Puliyapang, sacked from the program after its first year. The ejected party was Tocomwall, also Sydney-based.
Tocomwall director Scott Franks said on Tuesday his lawyers were preparing a statement.
With monitoring to begin according to the schedule laid out in the five-year contract, now more than a year in, the government has still not answered questions about what activities from the first year remained incomplete or whether any money paid to Tocomwall for services not rendered is recoverable, saying that this information is commercial in confidence.
Peter Jeffries, chief executive of the Murujuga Aboriginal Corporation representing the traditional owners, said the change in contractors wouldn’t affect the progress of an application for the rock art’s World Heritage Listing.
“MAC has been satisfied with the quality of the science in developing the conceptual model
and monitoring studies plan – we now look forward to executing the plan,” he said.
Murujuga (the Dampier Archipelago, including the Burrup Peninsula), near the mining town of Karratha in the state’s Pilbara region, is home to the world’s largest, densest and most diverse Aboriginal rock art gallery, but also the major and intensifying export operations of Woodside Petroleum, Rio Tinto and Yara Pilbara.
Fifteen years’ worth of studies over whether industrial emissions, dust, clearing and traffic are accelerating the natural weathering of the art have been hotly contested, including through a federal inquiry, with previous monitoring identifying shortcomings in the science.