Austrlian mnganese mining and exploration giant OM Manganese has been fined A$150,000 for destroying an Aboriginal sacred site, Two Women Sitting Down, at Bootu Creek, in the Northern Territory of Australia.
The site was located next to an open cut mining area known as Masai Pit, part of the company's Bootu Creek manganese mining operation.
It had caused a ''horizontal arm'' of rock to break off, reducing its sacredness to traditional owners.
Magistrate Sue Oliver said, that OM Manganese had made decisions that favoured ''business and profit'' over its obligations to protect the sacred site.
The miner was fined a total of $150,00 - $120,00 for desecration and $30,000 for damage. She found the company not guilty of a further charge of desecration.
Two Women Sitting Down is associated with Australia's Kunapa people.
Peter Toth, CEO of OM Holdings, which owns OM Manganese, accepted the court's ruling and expressed regret at the damage caused.
The magistrate said the loss of the horizontal arm had desecrated the site by diminishing its sacredness and interfering with its spiritual connections.
She also found that mining activity caused the fragile arm to fall off rather than natural causes as the company earlier argued.
"It is a sacred site for them always but it is now in ruins and none know what to do as this type never happened with the ancestors," said Kunapa community representative Gina Smith.
She added that the 'Two Women Sitting Down' had been there for thousands of years as part of their culture and story.
The story of the Two Women Sitting Down site depicts dreaming figures whose names were Namakili and Napanangka. One was a bandicoot and the other a marsupial rat. They had a fierce fight over the native Australian bush, bush tucker fruits and their blood spilled onto the rocks in the area. As a result, their blood flowed over the rocks, which explains the deep red coloring of the manganese.