Diverse stakeholders have the proven capacity to confer and/or disrupt an entity’s SLO. It’s not surprising therefore, that gaining and maintaining a SLO has been identified as the main - and escalating - business risk and challenge for the mining sector (Ernst and Young 2019 Top Ten Risks for Mining and Metals). Threats to an entity’s SLO can have significant impact (e.g. Bice 2014; Davis and Franks, 2014; Parsons et al., 2014; Jenkins, 2004), including the potential to affect:
(i) capacities to access capital;
(ii) retention of value in relation to future projects, expansions and innovations;
(iii) reputational capital;
(iv) operational efficiencies; and
In short, a robust understanding of the drivers, viewpoints and interrelations of major stakeholders has never been more important.
In this context, the Carmichael Coal Mine emerged as a highly controversial and contested mining operation eliciting extensive engagement and interaction on the part of a wide range of stakeholders. The mine offered a compelling and timely opportunity to examine in detail the social and political environment of contemporary mining in Australia and the unfolding of stakeholder viewpoints, positions and strategies. The approval stages and closure of mining operations are often moments of intense stakeholder engagement and debates around SLO (Hine 2019; Pini et al. 2010). This case is important to the global mining industry and has significant potential, following rigorous and comprehensive analysis, to offer lessens which can ameliorate the high risk around SLO in the industry.
Image by Amelia Hine
Further, a key industry challenge for socially, economically and environmentally beneficial mining into the future is to understand what makes for ‘good mining’ – if such a thing exists – from the various perspectives of the major stakeholder groups.
To date there is limited understanding of interactions of factors influencing SLO on the part of the multiplicity of stakeholders and their specific drivers and perspectives on mining processes and activity (Mayes 2015; Moffat and Zhang 2014). Forward looking research examining what might constitute ‘good mining’ from the various perspectives of major stakeholders is virtually non-existent.
This is a concerning gap given that stakeholder interactions and alignments exert a powerful influence on mining activity and can be harnessed to shape widely beneficial future practice.
Conceptualisation of good mining is central to future planning and decisions around development, adoption and reception of new technologies, which is the aim of the CRC for Optimising Resource Extraction (CRC ORE) (the funder of this project). Tools to facilitate genuine stakeholder interaction and understanding are as yet very limited, and this research addresses the above gaps.
Image by Amelia Hine
Bice S. (2014) ‘What gives you a social licence? An exploration of the social licence to operate in the Australian mining industry’, Resources, 3 (1), 62–80.
Davis R. and D. Franks (2014) ‘Cost of company–community conflict in the extractives’, CSR Initiative at the Harvard Kennedy School: report number 66, available at: www.hks.harvard.edu/m-rcbg/CSRI/research/Costs%20of%20Conflict_Davis%20%20Franks.pdf
Hine, A. 2019 ‘Beyond the void: Tracing situated knowledges in mining landscapes of the Anthropocene’ PhD thesis, University of Queensland, submitted Aug 2019
Jenkins, H. (2004) ‘Corporate social responsibility and the mining industry: conflicts and constructs’ Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management 11(1): 23-34.
Mayes, R. (2015) ‘A social licence to operate: corporate social responsibility, local communities and the constitution of global production networks’ Global Networks 15 (Special Issue); S109-128
Moffat, K. and A. Zhang (2014) ‘The paths to social licence to operate: an integrative model explaining community acceptance of mining’, Resources Policy, 39 (March), 61–70, doi: 10.1016/j.resourpol.2013.11.003.
Parsons, R., Lacey, J. and Moffat, K. (20104) “Maintaining legitimacy of a contested practice: how the minerals industry understands its ‘social licence to operate’” Resources Policy, 41: 83-90.
Pini,B., Mayes R. and McDonald, P. (2010) The emotional geography of mine closure: as study of Ravensthorpe nickel mine in Western Australia’ Social and Cultural Geography, 11:6, 559-574