Lack of trust in miners is up to the industry to fix – but ‘strong’ policy helps, says minister
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Australian miners appear to be still falling short on gaining the trust of the public – a problem that WA Mines Minister Bill Johnston thinks can be helped by “strong regulatory framework”.
The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) surveyed over 8000 Australians on their attitudes toward mining.
“In Australia in recent years, the types of conversations we’ve had about mining haven’t always been constructive,” CSIRO social scientist Dr Kieren Moffat said.
“What’s been lacking in these discussions – about a resource base that’s managed on behalf of Australian citizens – is the citizens’ voice.
“We want to promote a conversation about mining that goes a lot deeper and brings that voice directly to the table.”
Australia is one of the world’s top resource producers. Iron ore continues to be the country’s biggest export earner, contributing tens of billions of dollars each year to the economy.
While Mr Johnston believes it is “for industry to deal with these matters”, he says making sure the community’s interests are taken care of in the regulatory framework is important.
“We do have a transparent regulatory environment and we are working, for example, in the mine closure space in improving the way industry responds,” he told journalists on the sidelines of the Paydirt Battery Minerals Conference in Perth this week.
“There’s currently a Senate inquiry into mine closures, but of course my view of that Senate inquiry is that it’s fixed in the past and not looking at the future. So we have changed our mine closure practices in Western Australia.
“Making sure that there’s a transparent process, that information is available to the public, that outcomes of monitoring etc is all made publicly available – they’re the sorts of things we can do to make sure people have continuing confidence in the mining sector.”