Focus needed on miners’ social obligations
A different perspective on the debate about iron ore royalties is that the State of WA “owns” all minerals for the benefit of the community.
The State “sells” the minerals to miners for a price. The price is based on a generally accepted fair rate of 10 per cent ad valorem.
Miners are given discounts on the base 10 per cent price as development incentives to arrive at an actual price payable.
The State Mining Act, State Agreements and other State Acts set out miners’ legal rights and obligations.
These represent the miners’ legal licence to operate . That is, the minimum legal obligations miners must abide by to buy the minerals from the State, and to operate. The LLO endures as long as miners comply with the relevant conditions of the licence.
In considering impacts, miners’ LLO must be carried out in a manner that meets community social norms and needs, including environmental, health and cultural issues. This is the miners’ social licence to operate.
An SLO is subject to constant renewal and negotiation, to reflect the changing dynamics and impacts on the community.
It is an ongoing process by miners to earn and maintain the community’s trust.
An LLO is not an SLO. Miners with an LLO will often use it to try to bully a reluctant community, or buy it off. Buying off the community is easier than participating to earn the SLO.
An example of a negative impact is the stripping out of permanent workers (and families) from local communities and then bringing workers back on a FIFO basis.
We have come out of a boom in mining construction and iron ore prices where legal licence was emphasised. Now we must emphasise the social licence. Gary Slee, Karratha