Social Licence to Operate
Australia’s coal industry is heavily regulated, involving all levels of government and covering a wide range of areas including environmental performance, planning, land use, occupational health and safety and impacts on local communities.
As the coal industry has grown, regulation and community expectations have also evolved.
The Australian coal industry respects that its long-term future relies on its ‘social licence’ to operate. This means that the majority of the community remains supportive of Australia’s coal mining industry once aware of the economic and employment the industry provides; the essential products that it produces for domestic and overseas markets for energy, steelmaking and other industrial processes; and the impacts it can have on the environment and some local communities.
While the concept of a social licence is not new, it has come under increasing scrutiny in the last decade as the industry has expanded to meet global demand for Australia’s coal resources. This expansion has brought about pressures on local infrastructure, some issues of competing land use and increased impacts on some local communities.
The Australian coal industry places premium value on maintaining its social licence to operate. In order to do so, the industry promotes the pro-active steps that it is taking to address impacts on the environment and some local communities, and works with those communities and governments to address concerns as they arise. The objective is to ensure the responsible, long-term development of Australia’s coal resources in a manner that is accepted and supported by the Australian community.
Photo by Robert Billington, courtesy of NSWMC