MINING plays a big part of life in Australia, but the relationship between mining and society is not an easy one. A national survey reveals the importance of mining to Australia and Australians and uncovers a wealth of information on benefits and impacts of mining that contribute to public acceptance and the industry’s ‘social licence to operate’.
To better understand what Australians think about mining, CSIRO conducted an online survey of 5121 Australians in 2013/14. The survey results are published in the report ‘Australian attitudes toward mining: Citizen Survey - 2014 Results’.
The survey showed that most people view mining as a central and significant contributor to Australia’s economy and standard of living, a ‘necessary’ industry for Australia, and important to Australia’s future prosperity. It also revealed that Australians generally understand what it means to have a significant mining industry and overall consider that the benefits of mining currently outweigh its impacts.
The survey helps people understand how the impacts and benefits of mining, and the relationship between the mining industry, government and society, affects acceptance of mining among Australia’s citizens. It also sheds light on what constitutes a ‘social licence to operate’ for mining in Australia.
Other key findings from the survey reveal:
- A stronger balance of benefits over the costs of mining is associated with a higher level of acceptance of mining. If this balance is perceived to move toward the negative impacts of mining, acceptance of mining will be eroded;
- Australians trust and accept the industry more when they feel heard by the industry, when it is responsive to their concerns, when benefits from mining are shared equitably, and when the legislative and regulatory frameworks in place provide confidence that industry will do the right thing; and
- Obtaining and maintaining a ‘social licence to operate’ is the responsibility of governments and industry working together with communities to promote effective, constructive, and mutually beneficial relationships.
The CSIRO says this research goes beyond basic descriptive accounts of attitudes towards extractive industries to examine the relationship between mining and society in a more constructive and sophisticated way.
It explores what factors influence trust in the extractive industries and the government regarding the development of mining, for example, the relationship between good governance and social acceptance of the extractive industries, and identify key issues for the extractive industries and related stakeholders to facilitate a productive dialogue.
This survey forms part of a larger CSIRO program of work examining the relationship between mining and society at different scales in Australia and internationally.