Social engagement - timing in the mining life cycle

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Author: Meghan Cartwright

The Robert M. Buchan Department of Mining

Queen's University

Created: March, 2009



This topic is part of a series of topics related to social engagement. Further information can be found on the main page for that topic.

Timing in the Mining Life Cycle

Engagement should take place throughout the mining life cycle, beginning as early on in the conceptual and feasibility stages as possible, and continuing right through until post-closure, as illustrated in Figure 1. Some examples of community engagement and community development activities for each stage of the  mining life cycle can be found in Table 1.

Figure 1 Stakeholder engagement and community development throughout the mining life. (International Finance Corporation, 2009)

Figure 1 Stakeholder engagement and community development throughout the mining life. (International Finance Corporation, 2009)

Table 1 Examples of community engagement and development activities (Department of Industry, Tourism and Resources of the Australian Government, 2006)
Stage Examples of community engagement activities Examples of community development activities
Exploration Discussions and dialogue for the purposes of:
  • seeking permissions for access to land
  • negotiating land use and other agreements
  • identifying and addressing cultural heritage issues
  • informing people of exploration activities and timetables.Managing expectations and addressing community concerns about:
  • the impacts of exploration
  • potential for future development
  • opportunities for the community if the resource is developed.
Facilitating opportunities for local people to find employment with, or provide products or services to exploration undertakings. Assisting Traditional Owner groups to build their capacity to negotiate. Supporting or contributing to infrastructure development in areas where exploration is occurring.
Project development Engaging in further discussion and negotiation for the purposes of:
  • ongoing permission for access to land
  • fulfilling the obligations of land use and other agreements
  • identifying cultural issues that may extend beyond exploration such as mapping exclusion zones, active protection of sites.Providing information regarding project development particularly when project development is uncertain. Involving the community in baseline monitoring of environmental and socio-economic and cultural aspects. Establishing consultative forums and structures (such as community liaison committees).
Undertaking community needs analyses and baseline studies, including understanding community capacity to cope with change, and the strength of community networks and institutions. In collaboration with key stakeholders, planning the company's community development programs which may include:
  • establishing trusts and foundations to manage royalties, and/or corporate community contributions
  • supporting and/or contributing to improvements in community infrastructure (such as schools, housing)
  • outreach programs for marginalised groups
  • building the capacity of local and Indigenous businesses to provide products or services to the facility
  • building the capacity of local and Indigenous people to gain direct employment at the facility
  • liaising with governments about regional development planning.
Construction Understanding and addressing community concerns about the environmental and social impacts of large-scale construction activity. Dealing with community expectations about employment and economic opportunities in the construction phase and beyond. Liaising with near neighbours to manage amenity and access issues. Implementing programs to help integrate employees and their families into the community. Partnering and collaborating with government and other organisations to ensure the delivery of improved services (such as childcare, education, housing) to communities impacted by construction activity. Providing employment, training and business opportunities for local people in the construction phase and beyond.
Operations Dealing with ongoing amenity and environmental issues and addressing other matters of community concern. Establishing systems to ensure the operation can respond to community concerns and ensuring that agreements are complied with and undertakings honoured. Keeping people informed about what is happening at the mine (such as through open days, newsletters, hotline). Participating in consultative groups and forums and maintaining the involvement and focus of these groups Working in collaboration with the community to allocate and distribute community development funding, in line with community needs analyses. Implementing or supporting initiatives that address identified that address identified community needs. Building the capacity of local organisations (such as through the provision of funding and in-kind support to volunteer and not-for-profit organisations). Providing training, employment and business development opportunities for local people. Partnering and collaborating with other organisations to deliver improved services for the community. Supporting or funding a community visioning exercise.
Planning for closure Involving external stakeholders in decisions about post-mine land use and beyond, preferably from early on in the life of the operation. Ensuring that the community is kept informed of significant developments and understands the timetable for closure. Liaising with key agencies (such as local government, housing authorities) to minimise disruption to services and mitigate adverse community impacts. Dealing with uncertainty and anxiety in the community and workforce about closure. Working with communities to help them define a post-mining future or providing support for the community to undertake these processes independently. Identifying viable alternative uses for mine land and project infrastructure. Helping to build the capacity of local people to utilise opportunities presented by mine closure. Providing employment and business opportunities around closure (such as rehabilitation work and environmental monitoring). Considering programs that aim to establish alternative businesses and activities that are not dependent on mining (such as tourism, agricultural projects). Where appropriate, establishing structures such as trusts and foundations to provide economic benefits beyond the life of the mine.