Fo­cus needed on min­ers’ so­cial obli­ga­tions

Pilbara News - - Opinion -

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

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