Buru Energy says it has stopped work at its Ungani oil project in Western Australia after traditional owners claimed it had destroyed a significant Aboriginal archaeological site.
KRED Enterprises on Friday said Nyikina Mangala traditional owners had demanded the Perth-based company cease operations at the project, about 100km east of Broome in WA's Kimberley region, where extended production testing began in March.
It said Buru had bulldozed through sand dunes in an exclusion zone, destroying an Aboriginal archaeological site and disturbing important objects.
KRED chief executive and Nyikina Mangala traditional owner Wayne Bergmann, who used to head the Kimberley Land Council, said a complaint had been lodged with the Department of Indigenous Affairs along with a request for a full investigation.
Buru executive director Eric Streitberg said the company had been preparing for a geophysical survey but stopped operations in the area in question as soon as it was made aware of the concerns on Thursday.
'The company will not conduct any further work in that area until all investigations are complete,' he said.
Mr Streitberg said Buru was undertaking its own investigation into the incident and was fully assisting the department's independent probe.
However, there were no sites in the area of the alleged disturbance that had been registered with the department, he said.
Mr Streitberg said all of Buru's activities were conducted after obtaining heritage clearances from traditional owners.
'Buru takes particular care to ensure that its activities do not disturb registered sites or areas of cultural significance that are brought to our attention,' Mr Streitberg said.
'This particular work was conducted following extensive consultation with the Nyikina Mangala people over a period of nine months and has included on-ground monitoring by the traditional owners.'
KRED said Buru was currently in negotiations with the Nyikina Mangala people over access to land for exploration activities.
'Buru has covered every inch of our claim with mining and exploration tenements, and if it wants to work with us, it needs to do it on our terms and respect our culture and heritage,' Mr Bergmann said.
Buru is an Australian Securities Exchange-listed company with market capitalisation of about $756 million. It is developing the Ungani project in partnership with Japan's Mitsubishi