The McArthur River Mine was established in 1995 to mine zinc and lead in a remote region of Australia’s Northern Territory. We have had a direct relationship with the 4 Aboriginal clans within the region, and the traditional owners who represent them, since establishing the mine. Our relationship is primarily based on respect for their country.
In 2006, the conversion from underground to open-pit mining involved relocating a section of the McArthur river. This created the opportunity to develop the relationship further, based on meaningful engagement and mutual benefit.
Since then, we have been undertaking a wide-ranging stakeholder engagement programme, encompassing representatives of local government, surrounding communities and indigenous people. It included many new initiatives, such as: a community reference group, which facilitates our sharing information with community members; frequent site visits inviting community members to visit the mine; and the MRM Community Benefits Trust. This trust has committed AUD 9 million in grants to 42 regional socio-economic development programmes in the 5 years since its establishment.
The engagement programme provides evidence of our commitment to work towards our stakeholders’ priorities: delivering employment, community benefits and environmental and cultural heritage protection to the indigenous community.
In 2011, we undertook a detailed socio-economic impact assessment to support our environmental assessment for the third phase of development at the mine.
This involved a comprehensive and inclusive consultation programme, which reached around 20% of the greater regional population of 1,500 and prioritised personal discussions to allow in-depth consideration of the development.
The outcomes of this assessment, and a survey of stakeholder perceptions conducted in 2012, reflect the results of our change in community relations strategy in recent years. There were no community complaints or submissions to the Phase 3 environmental assessment. Our survey found 81% of our key stakeholders believed we communicated openly with the community, particularly on important subjects (compared to 55% in 2010). It also found that 92% believe we have a positive reputation in the area, and 81% see us as committed to the development of the Borroloola Township and Gulf region.