MINING has been responsible for shaping Australian history and continues to be a significant contributor to the economy.
Mining must demonstrate that it attains and then retains a "social licence to operate" among local communities it operates alongside and society more broadly.
Although the social licence to operate is well known as a concept and a range of mining companies have quickly adapted to this, it is widely recognised that the relationship between the mining industry and society is still not well understood, and still remains sensitive in some parts of the country.
"What drivers constitute the social licence to operate?" and "What role do community attitudes play towards mining and reclamation in this social licence?" are the questions a national survey at Monash University aims to address.
The community survey is conducted online and targets several groups of respondents - mining communities, mining employees, industry regulators and local councils, and the university's staff and students. In addition to participants' attitudes and basic personal characteristics, the survey collects information on their knowledge of mining and reclamation activities in Australia.
We believe that the knowledge and experience with mining and reclamation practice can significantly shape people's attitudes towards mining industry.
So far, more than 300 people have completed the survey, and we are aiming for 1000 from throughout Australia.
The survey will close in December, with the research findings scheduled to be published in January 2016.
This research study is specifically developed to understand Australian attitudes from an international perspective, and involves a direct comparison with European attitudes towards mining and reclamation. The same survey is being used in the Czech Republic in co-operation with the Czech University of Life Sciences in Prague.
Our expectation is that the fundamental difference between Czech and Australian attitudes towards mining industry will be in people's experience with mining reclamation. Although the reclamation techniques and tools are very similar in both the countries, the Czech Republic's mining reclamation are well established in their 50-year history.
People in the Czech Republic can see that post-mining landscapes are green and beneficial again and provide a recreation space for sport and outdoor activities for communities. Additionally, all of Czech Republic's mines are located in highly populated areas, so there is an immense pressure to reclaim them "for community", which may not be the case in Australian mining regions.
On successful completion of this study, our research interests will continue further in the area of public participation in the mine rehabilitation process.
Currently, community participation in mining and reclamation planning practice are a neglected issue worldwide.
In mine reclamation practice, when a new landscape is planned, the community's voices are highly significant, and this needs a careful hearing.
Realising this, we would like to work on an instructive framework for community engagement methods as a tool for effective planning in mining practice.
For more information about the study visit http://eng.monash.edu.au/civil/mine-attitudes/ or email Mining.Society@monash.edu.
Kamila Svobodova is a postdoctoral research fellow from the Czech Republic, and Mohan Yellishetty is a senior lecturer in mining; both are in the mining engineering division within civil engineering at Monash University