Maintaining the mining industry's "social licence" is a growing challenge in an age when social media allows instant commentary about its performance, the head of the NSW Minerals Council said yesterday.
Council chief executive Stephen Galilee said resources companies had to lift their performance to minimise community impacts, especially in regions such as the Illawarra.
He was speaking at the mining body's environment and community conference at Wollongong's Novotel Northbeach.
"We have to be more than just economic contributors to the region and to the state," Mr Galilee said.
"We have to be good community citizens and more so here in NSW, where we don't have a fly-in-fly-out workforce in anywhere near the scale that we see in Queensland and WA.
"Our local miners are local residents in most cases, and their families also live near by so managing environmental and community impacts are an even higher priority."
To coincide with the conference yesterday, community and environmental groups called on the NSW government to "face the unacceptable impacts" of mining on Sydney and the Illawarra's water catchments.
Examples of recent tension between resources or exploration companies and residents include an ongoing blockade at Sutton Forest to prevent Hume Coal from accessing a property to conduct exploration drilling.
On Sunday, thousands of anti-coal seam gas protesters formed a human sign against CSG at Bulli.
Mr Galilee said the NSW Minerals Council did not represent the CSG industry.
He also said regulators were placing increasing emphasis on community sentiment and public support.
He did not believe the mining industry's "social licence", which was linked to issues such as land access, was under threat today.
"But I do think we face increasing threats to it, particularly from things like social media, which allow more instant commentary, and opinion and reporting on our performance," he said.
"We have genuine community concern about particular projects and that's always been the case for mining and for other industries, but we also as an industry are increasingly facing deliberate opposition by activists who are opposed to mining, and no amount of best practice on community or environmental activities are going to satisfy them.
"That is a reminder to us as an industry ... that we need to be constantly lifting our game, because we're working in an environment where people are actively working to undermine our relationships with the community and with government."
The conference continues today.