Transforming the public perception of mining

What do Australians think of the mining industry in 2018? The Minerals Council of Australia finds out. Safe to Work reports.

Australian opinion towards the mining sector looks to be improving, with research showing it’s at its highest level in six years.

Independent firm JWS Research conducted the public opinion survey on behalf of the Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) using a sample of 1500 Australians, while facilitating online discussion forums for regional mining communities.

Outright support for the mining industry amongst Australians came out at 46 per cent versus total opposition at 13 per cent. Total support outweighed opposition by more than three to one.

Respondents expressed three main reasons for their support.

Firstly, the Australian mining industry provides high-wage, high-skill, high-technology jobs for Australians (with 55 per cent of respondents in agreement).

Secondly, the industry provides resources essential for modern life, technology and business in Australia (55 per cent agreement).

Finally, the industry provides almost 60 per cent of the jobs in regional communities where it operates (53 per cent agreement).

The study also revealed Australians’ strong belief in the importance of the resource industries for the nation’s future.

Views towards coal mining, iron ore, gold and uranium have significantly improved since early 2016, with net favourability having rebounded to +28 after hitting a low of +1 in February 2016.

Iron ore is viewed by 14 per cent of people as the most important source. Both coal and battery minerals like lithium and cobalt are also perceived by 9 per cent of respondents as important.

“We welcome the strong positive support for the world-class mining sector amongst Australians,” MCA chief executive officer Tanya Constable says.

“These results show that the advocacy of the MCA, our members and other industry supporters is working to restore public support for the industry.”

However, the industry needs to divulge more information to the public about its positive activities, particularly in mine rehabilitation and investment in regional communities.

Despite Australia’s strong track record in these areas, many respondents believe mining companies should be repatriating land that had been mined. They should also invest in health and welfare programs, including mental health and social welfare.

The research encouraged mining companies to address public perceptions regarding its management of environmental impact, its care of employees and its distribution of wealth across the community.

“The MCA and our members will use these results in future industry communication and campaigning work, including highlighting the great work being done by Australian mining companies in responsible environmental management and health and safety,” Constable concludes.

This article also appears in the Oct–Dec edition of Safe to Work.

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