Mining Life Conference Report back
Mia Pepper, Mining Legacies Project Officer
MPI Director and Board members attended the Life of Mine Conference
in Brisbane – June 2014 to present our peer reviewed paper on Mining Legacies in Australia. It was clear from the conference that there are many frustrations within the mining industry about the lack of commitment to rehabilitate from senior management and the lack of regulations to enforce action. MPi increasingly sees an important role in filling the gap and being able to advocate for action towards addressing legacy sites and in advocating on policy development and strengthening to ensure we are not left with new generations of legacy sites.There were some particular issues that were identified at the conference that are worth mentioning, these observations point to the dramatic need for stronger regulations and penalties.
1. In times of boom when the industry is doing well financially companies tend to be focused on new investments and approvals. In times of bust companies will cry poor. There is never a good time for the industry to deal with rehabilitation and mining legacies – so they will avoid it.
2. There was a broad acceptance that the mining industry has or is losing its social license to operate – this was framed as – protest and opposition is costing us so we need to address this. It is interesting to note that there was a barrier for many participants to see that public concern is largely based on lived experience not irrational fears.
3. The majority of the presentation at the conference were about avoiding new legacies, test cases of rehabilitation and on corporate responsibility. There was very little discussion on how we will collectively address the 50,000 existing legacy sites.
MPI played an important role in highlighting the severity of the environmental damage from mining legacies, the need to rehabilitate and the policy barriers to begin the clean up.
Read MPI’s Mining Life Conference Papers:
Mining Legacies – Understanding Life-of-Mine Across Time and Space, M Pepper, C P Roche and G M Mudd, 2014
Mining in Morobe, Papua New Guinea – Impacts, Assurance and Self-determination, G M Mudd and C P Roche, 2014