A dump truck driving through an open cut mine
It’s no secret that mining is important to Australia, but that doesn’t necessarily make it popular with society at large.
We wanted to have a better understanding of what Australians think about mining, so in 2013/14 we conducted an online survey of 5,121 Australians.
The survey results have now been published as Australian attitudes toward mining: Citizen Survey – 2014 Results
Surveying community attitudes helps us to understand the impacts and benefits of mining, and how the relationship between the mining industry, government and society affects what Australia’s citizens think about it, and how much they accept the mining industry. It gives us insight into what needs to happen before mining has a ‘social licence to operate’ in Australia.
Scale chart showing community views on importance of mining
We’ve gone beyond basic descriptions of attitudes towards the extractive industries, and looked at the relationship between mining and society in a more constructive and sophisticated way.
We wanted to know what goes into influencing trust in the mining industries, and the government, over mining developments. What, for example, is the relationship between good governance and social acceptance of the extractive industries? What are the key issues for a productive dialogue between the extractive industries and other stakeholders?
Bar chart showing Australians' level of acceptance of mining industries
Some of the important findings from the survey are that:
- People view mining as central and significant to Australia’s economy and standard of living. They see it as a ‘necessary’ industry for Australia, which is important to Australia’s future prosperity
- Australians generally understand what it means to have a significant mining industry. Overall, they think that at present the benefits of mining outweigh its impacts.
- The more the benefits of mining outweigh the costs, the higher the level of acceptance. 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 believe the industry is listening to them and will respond to their concerns, when benefits from mining are shared equitably, and when the legislative and regulatory frameworks in place make them confident that industry will do the right thing.
- Governments and industry need to work with communities to earn and maintain the ‘social licence to operate’ and develop effective, constructive, mutually beneficial relationships.