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10 April 2004
Mining and pollution impact on ancient rock art sites

Scientists have begun a major study in Australia's remote northwest into how mining and pollution is damaging the world's largest concentration of ancient rock art, a state government announced Tuesday.
     The Burrup Peninsula in the state of Western Australia is the home to up to 1 million prehistoric Aboriginal rock engravings and carvings as a well as Australia's largest resource development. The government said it had commissioned a four-year study to measure the damage caused by industrial emissions from the Woodside Northwest Shelf natural gas project and Hamersley Iron's mining operations on the unique 10,000-year-old art.
     "To the best of our knowledge, this monitoring program will be the most thorough scientific research of impacts on rock art ever undertaken in Australia," said conservationist Frank Murray, of Burrup Rock Art Monitoring Management Committee. Increased acidity of rainwater has been blamed for a major deterioration in the art since the late 1980s.

Sources: Associated Press, Newsday.com (6 April 2004)

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