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2017 Anchor Survey

Posted by: Naomi Boughen

May 17, 2018

The ‘Anchor’ survey is a detailed survey, carried out at the beginning of the process, from December 2016 to February 2017.  It asked questions about a range of issues related to living in and around the Adelaide Hills, the relationship with Terramin, and the positive and negative aspects of their proposed underground gold operation. The results of the ‘Anchor’ survey feed into the ongoing quarterly ‘Pulse’ surveys.

Key themes and topics

The following key themes and topics summarise the findings of the two ‘Anchor’ survey reports:

Proximity matters

The closer that participants lived to the proposed site, the more negative their perceptions toward almost all of the issues and topics examined in this survey was. Similarly, those that classified themselves as near neighbours were broadly more negative about the proposed mine and its potential impacts than those that did not consider themselves to be near neighbours. This suggests that Terramin cannot assume that those that live further away from the physical location of the mine itself see themselves as less impacted (positively and negatively) than those that live close by. It also suggests that activities associated with the mining process such as truck movement and ore processing may be considered in the same way that direct impacts of the mining process are.

Community resilience, wellbeing and the nature of risk

Responses to the community wellbeing items were very positive. These qualities (place attachment, suitability for young children, happiness living in the area and quality of life) may be considered some of the attributes at risk, in the minds of community members, should the proposed mine go ahead. They may be considered core to what is at stake for the community. Examining the nature of the risks of mining in the Adelaide Hills, responses by participants were around the mid-point of the scale, indicating that overall concern about the nature of risk is moderate. The exceptions were how well the risks were understood (poorly) and how easily these risks may be reduced (not easily). Perceptions of the capacity of the community to adapt and respond to change were, however, only moderate. This pattern of response highlights the nature of key risks to quality of life in the community and a potential vulnerability within the community to manage change.

Impacts and benefits

Participants were asked to rate a number of potential future impacts and benefits arising from the development of the Bird in Hand mine. In summary, participants were somewhat equivocal or in moderate agreement regarding the potential negative impacts of the proposed mine on water and environment, community safety (roads) and visual amenity. Quality of life, however, was unlikely to be negatively affected by any future mine in the minds of participants, overall. Participants were also equivocal or in moderate agreement that the proposed mine would lead to opportunities around local employment and training, and local industry participation. Notably, less agreement was reported with potential benefits for mine-related tourism and infrastructure investment, although participants believed tourism overall would not suffer should the mine go ahead. Again, these responses were location and near neighbour status dependent, in the direction described above.

Relationships

Participants were asked about their interactions with Terramin employees, where they got information about the proposed mine, how included they felt in the decision-making process by Terramin and others, and how equitable they felt the benefits of mining may be distributed should the proposed operation progress. For those participants that had experienced direct engagement with employees of Terramin, the experience was generally moderately positive, however, community members felt that they were moderately excluded from decision-making processes about community issues by Terramin (although not to the same extent as state or federal government), and Terramin had work to do in listening and respecting community opinions and changing its practices based on these concerns. Similarly, while there was strong agreement that benefit would likely be shared at the community level, individually, on the other hand, it was felt this benefit would not be experienced in an equitable way.

Trust and acceptance

Trust and acceptance of a range of actors and industries were also measured. Community members trusted their local doctor most out of all the actors and institutions included. Relative to this level of trust, other industries present in the Adelaide Hills were trusted much less, with Terramin engagement personnel lower again, and below the mid-point of the scale. Terramin’s engagement team was, in turn, was trusted more than Terramin as a corporate entity, again reinforcing the importance of local engagement by motivated personnel. Last on trust in the list of institutions and groups examined, were federal and state government.

Looking then at acceptance overall, the proposed Terramin project is accepted less than mining industry in general, which was accepted much less than other industries operating locally (viticulture, meat and livestock), with the tourism industry attracting the highest levels of acceptance. It will be important to assess the level of acceptance of Terramin over time relative to the level of rejection of the company and its proposal to develop an underground gold mine. Currently, the mean response to an item assessing the level of rejection is lower than acceptance. Should this change, or shift considerably, it is expected that the relationship between Terramin and the communities surrounding the proposed operation may have moved into a much less constructive phase.

Important influences on trust: fairness, favourability, impact and risk

Participants were more likely to trust Terramin if they perceived:

  1. Terramin to have fair procedures for involving the community
  2. Terramin as a favourable member of the community
  3. The proposed mine’s impact to be positive (beneficial)
  4. The proposed mine’s risk to be low

Currently, levels of trust and acceptance in the company are low and there are many questions in the minds of community members regarding key technical and risk-related attributes of the proposal.

Download full reports

Initial results from the community survey: This report details the preliminary analysis of 217 surveys collected from community members surrounding the site of an underground gold mine proposed by Terramin, located in the Adelaide Hills, South Australia.

Science insights to inform community engagement:  Coming soon! This report builds on the previous report, analysing the full dataset, consisting 413 surveys, to provide deep science insights to inform future community engagement.

Next steps

Terramin’s proposed underground gold mine faces a number of challenges in developing and maintaining a constructive relationship with its community neighbours. The mine is expected to create a range of negative impacts, adding strain on assets or issues within the community (e.g. road quality) that are already of concern to the wider community. The communities surveyed do, however, also see potential benefits locally and at a state level should the mine go ahead. How these benefits are distributed, though, will be important.

While there are challenges, there are also opportunities and clear signals regarding how the communities surrounding the proposed location of the mine would like to be engaged. Key elements in what may be termed the local value proposition for the mine, have also been articulated. Involvement in decision-making processes, feeling heard and respected, receiving timely and accessible information from Terramin about technical risks related to the project, and understanding more clearly how the government regulator will condition and regulate company behaviour should a mine go ahead, are all attributes of any future engagement strategy by Terramin that would meet many of the needs of community members.

Increasing quality contact with the community is an avenue for improving the relationship and to be monitored in the ‘Pulse’ surveys. Further monitoring of the perceptions of community that are near or at least perceive themselves should also be a focus for ‘Pulse’ surveys.

Learn more