Enduring value for remote communities from mining: Synthesising production, employment, populations, and reform opportunities

lcj-19-coverBoyd Blackwell & Stuart Robertson

LCJ: Special Edition: Synthesis & Integration, 19, pp. 116-147
http://doi.org/10.18793/LCJ2016.19.08

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Citation
Blackwell, B,. & Robertson, S. (2016). Enduring value for remote communities from mining: Synthesising production, employment, populations, and reform opportunities. Learning Communities: International Journal of Learning in Social Contexts [Special Issue: Synthesis & Integration], 19, 116-147. DOI: http://doi.org/10.18793/LCJ2016.19.08.

 

Abstract

Enduring Community Value from Mining is an important outcome for mining in regional and remote locations around the world, an initiative lead by the national and global peak mining bodies. This article tracks the connections between mine production, employment and populations in very remote areas of the Northern Territory and South Australia. Mining is an important industry activity in these locations and the results suggest, in the main, these locations are highly dependent on mining for maintaining population levels through employment, not just in mining but in other industrial sectors that indirectly rely on mining. Leigh Creek has recently experienced declining coal production and so its population and workforce, while highly mobile, have been in decline. In contrast, until recently, production at Olympic Dam has been on the increase, with similarly highly mobile population and workforce that has experienced growth. While mining brings jobs during productive times, it can also bring dwindling populations through increased mobile work practices. These remote locations therefore face an uphill battle in ensuring enduring community value from mining.  However, a range of policies can help ensure a better transfer of enduring value to remote mine dependent towns including being open to non-mine residents, unrestricted access in land and property markets, an ability of residents to have locally responsible and accountable local governments, and early and shared strategic planning by government, mining companies, and communities around how to manage the peaks and troughs of the various avenues for returns to community. Finally, while each case location is different in its own way, the most different is Yuendumu and it therefore requires careful consideration of how to deliver lasting benefit.

 

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