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Community workshops

Posted by: Naomi Boughen

May 18, 2018

To support the development of a contextualised survey instrument, representatives of relevant community groups, near neighbours, and the wider community, were invited to participate in a 2-hour workshop to explore community functioning and wellbeing, before delving into specific issues and aspirations associated with the proposed underground gold mine development.

A series of five community workshops were run over three days in late October 2016. The five workshops were facilitated by CSIRO and attended by 45 participants. Participants came from three broad groups: near neighbours to the proposed project; local community leaders, and the general public.

Key themes and topics

The findings from the workshops have been grouped into three sections, each section corresponding to the three main topics explored in the workshop.

There is a lot to defend; there is a lot to lose

Workshop participants provided rich accounts of the quality of their lives in the Adelaide Hills.

  • The region offers many positive attributes and experiences for community members at all stages of their lives.
  • Many residents remain or intend to remain in the area for many years.
  • A (re)introduction of mining to the area was perceived as a potential threat to some of these attributes, including its ‘clean and green’ reputation, aesthetic, and general lifestyle, which they value.

The impacts are not all in the future, and they are not all bad

When prompted, participants generated long lists of potential impacts and benefits that the proposed mine may have on the area and its residents. The impacts included water resource impacts, community safety, increased road traffic, and impacts on other industries such as viticulture and tourism. Some of the potential benefits included increased local employment, opportunities for local businesses, and additional state revenues. Some impacts were being experienced now as a result of the work already being conducted by Terramin, including stress and increased time/resources devoted to actively assessing information about the project. However, utilisation of water resource mapping data provided by Terramin was viewed positively by local landowners.

There is uncertainty regarding the process of development

A key theme that emerged in all workshops was the extent to which there was uncertainty regarding a range of topics related to the proposed mine, including the following:

  • Lack of clarity about the mine development process should a licence be granted
  • The role of government and its regulator in protecting the interests of the community and holding the company to account
  • The conditions placed on a mine to mitigate risks.

While some of these areas of uncertainty may be effectively addressed by the company, some may also be effectively addressed by the regulator through the provision of relevant information.

The relationship needs work

Although there was a broad range of experiences within workshop participant groups regarding the level of contact with Terramin personnel, two main themes emerged:

  1. For those that had contact experiences, it appeared that public forums were challenging and these experiences were more negative than when meeting Terramin personnel face-to-face.
  2. Many workshop participants had had no contact with Terramin, and some had very little information about the proposed mine beyond that supplied by the CSIRO team in the participant information and consent form.
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Next steps

The findings of the five workshops, combined with the theoretical underpinnings of social licence to operate developed previously by CSIRO, were used to inform the design of the ‘anchor survey’.


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