Mining must build on social licence: CSIRO

THE mining sector needs to work harder on community acceptance, trust and support, the CSIRO has found.
Mining must build on social licence: CSIRO Mining must build on social licence: CSIRO Mining must build on social licence: CSIRO Mining must build on social licence: CSIRO Mining must build on social licence: CSIRO


Richard Collins

The CSIRO report, released at the International Mining and Resources Conference in Melbourne this week, was based on a survey of more than 5000 people Australia-wide.

The survey provided insights and data on community attitudes and ways for the sector to build its future opportunities and social licence to operate.

"A key finding is that Australians consider that mining is a worthwhile pursuit when you weigh up all the associated benefits and costs," lead researcher Dr Kieren Moffat said.

"The survey shows Australians broadly accept mining and that acceptance underpins the social licence to operate but it shows that support is fragile and subject to things like perceptions of mining impacts, governance and the sharing of benefits."

The survey in 2013-14 covered 1283 people living in or near mining operations in 11 identified regions as well as 1562 people living in non-mining regions and 2276 people in metropolitan areas across the country.

People across all three regions strongly agreed that mining contributed significantly to the economy and standard of living.

"There are, however, relatively strong community perceptions that mining impacts negatively on the environment, water quality, agriculture, climate change and the health of local communities."

Those surveyed expressed mid-range levels of trust in state and federal governments, the industry and non-government organisations and a below mid-range rating for the capacity of governments or legislation to keep the industry accountable.

"The work indicates that Australians trust and accept the industry more when the industry hears and is responsive to their concerns, when benefits from mining are shared equitably and when the legislative and regulatory frameworks we have in place provide confidence that industry will do the right thing," Moffat said.

"The work shows that building trust and acceptance and the 'social licence' of the mining industry will require industry, governments and other stakeholders to work together with the wider community."

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