Historically, copper mining occurred during the 1800’s and today a dolomite quarry and a port operate approximately 12 km from the Hillside site. The Yorke Peninsula region is also home to the Narungga People. These complexities around shared land use in Australia are well documented and continue to drive the scrutiny of mining’s socioeconomic and environmental impacts. The approach taken by Rex at Hillside mirrors this and highlights both the importance of effective community engagement throughout the entire project cycle and understanding the dynamic between mining and agriculture.
Integrating the Hillside project into the broader regional framework is a key company objective and involves maximising opportunities generated by a mine development.
Gaining community support requires a commitment to meaningful engagement with the local community. This is reflected by the integration of a community policy into Rex’s strategic business model along with the endorsement of SACOME’s Code of Practice for Community and Stakeholder Engagement.
Rex also adheres to SACOME’s Code of Conduct for mineral and energy explorers in accessing rural land. Community input has helped the company develop appropriate drill pads, improved environmental management procedures and facilitated land access and compensation agreements. Along with recognition of the Narrunga people as a key stakeholder, a Heritage Agreement and close working relationship with the Narungga Heritage Group and SA Museum has prospered.
The Hillside Community Consultative Group (CCG) and associated groups provide a structured forum for community representation which has been critical in issue identification and response, reviewing plans from a community perspective and harnessing local knowledge and expertise.
Community engagement on the Yorke Peninsula also extends to the Rex Community Sponsorship Program which has provided funding for the Ardrossan Community Hospital’s accident and emergency service centre.
Regular public tours of the Hillside site, open office sessions, presentations to community interest groups and regular updates through the ‘REXPRESS’ newsletter are also part of the broader community engagement strategy.
Hillside reflects significant challenges mining companies face when exploring in established agricultural regions, but also demonstrates how proactive and meaningful community and stakeholder engagement can drive innovation and assist in successfully developing a project.
Source: SA Mines & Energy Journal Oct/Nov 2013