Mining and the Community » Mining and the Community
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The research reported here seeks to enhance the capacity of the Australian coal mining industry and other stakeholders to identify, assess, manage and monitor cumulative social, economic and environmental impacts. The project aims to advance our understanding of how impacts aggregate and interact and to apply this knowledge to improve policies and on the ground practice, in order to maximise positive, and minimise negative, outcomes from mining.
Cumulative impacts may arise from individually minor but collectively significant actions taking place over time and space. They are the successive, incremental and combined impacts (both positive and negative) of an activity on society, the economy and the environment. They can be generated by the compounding activities of a single mining operation or multiple mining and processing operations, as well as the interaction of mining‐related impacts with other past, current and future activities that may not be related to mining.
The varied social, environmental and economic impacts generated by the expansion and contraction of mining, in new and established mining regions, are challenging the effectiveness of existing institutions and approaches. While communities and environments experience the impacts from multiple activities cumulatively, mining policy and regulation, as well as the on‐site management of mining operations, has traditionally been undertaken on a project by project basis and largely in isolation of other contributors to the generation of impacts.
Cumulative impacts are most often raised in the context of multiple mining operations in established mining provinces such as the Bowen Basin, in Queensland and the Hunter Valley in New South Wales. However, cumulative impacts may also arise through the interaction of mining with other activities and industries, such as grazing and broad scale agriculture, and thus may arise in emerging and prospective mining regions such as the Surat, Gunnedah and Galilee Basins.
The main research output of this project is a 'Good Practice Guide on Cumulative Impacts for the Australian Coal Mining Industry'. The guide focuses on the opportunities and challenges to proactively identify and respond to cumulative impacts. It is argued that a multi‐stakeholder approach, ideally involving not just mines but government, community and other industries as well, has the potential to produce better sustainable development outcomes. The guide provides practical approaches, methods and case studies to improve the assessment, management, monitoring and reporting of cumulative impacts and to enhance coordination and collaboration amongst stakeholders.