Maintaining the mining industry’s ‘‘social licence to operate’’ is the foremost challenge facing resources companies, the head of the NSW Minerals Council said in Wollongong this morning.
NSW Minerals Council CEO Stephen Galilee said this social licence was linked to complex issues including land use and access, and the need for responsible economic development.
Mr Galilee was speaking at the Minerals Council’s 2012 Environment and Community Conference at Novotel Northbeach.
He told the audience, which included Federal Environment Minister Tony Bourke, that miners were up against ideologically driven opponents and social media scare campaigns.
‘‘It’s crucial that policies on these issues are based on facts and evidence, and not on the mirage of social media campaigns, nor the exaggeration of activists ideologically opposed to mining,’’ he said.
‘‘Our strategies on noise, dust, air quality, water and rehabilitation are continually evolving as new and better innovations allow us to improve our methods and deliver better outcomes.’’
A new template for land access during mining exploration was launched at the conference, after a year in which conflicts between miners, landowners and farmers had become a sensitive issue statewide.
‘‘We have been working closely with the NSW Farmers Association and the NSW government to finalise the new land access template,’’ Mr Galilee said.
‘‘The new template and explanatory information is written in plain English and sets out the rights and responsibilities of land holders and explorers. It also clarifies what must be included in a land access agreement and provides a template that ensures all legislative requirements are met.”
Turning his attention to governments, Mr Galilee said another key challenge for the mining industry is to ensure best practice decision-making from policymakers.
‘‘Our industry must strive to ensure governments deliver competitive tax regimes; an effective regulatory regime; and an efficient approvals framework to foster responsible mining rather than see investment and jobs move interstate or overseas,’’ Mr Galilee said.
‘‘We must ensure that governments at all levels are informed by the best available facts, science and evidence when faced with key decisions about our industry and related issues.
‘‘The alternative is to risk being lumped with measures designed to fix headlines but not problems.’’