According to new public opinion research conducted by JWS Research for the Minerals Council of Australia, opinions towards the mining sector are at their highest level in six years.
During the qualitative research phase, face-to-face focus group discussions were held in Parramatta and Melbourne along with online discussion forums in regional mining communities. In conjunction with this, a nationally representative sample of 1,500 Australians were surveyed.
The results found that views towards coal mining, iron ore, gold and uranium have all ‘significantly improved’ since early 2016. Outright support for the mining industry amongst Australians was found to outweigh opposition (more than three to one), with total support at 46 per cent versus total opposition at 13 per cent.
The main reasons provided by respondents to support the Australian mining industry included:
- Providing high-wage, high-skill, high-technology jobs for Australians (with a response of 55 per cent agreement).
- Providing resources essential for modern life, technology and business in Australia (55 per cent).
- Providing almost 60 per cent of the jobs in the regional communities in which it operates (53 per cent).
The research uncovered that Australians hold ‘strong positive views’ on the perceived importance of resource industries for the nation’s future, with iron ore voted by 14 per cent of participants as the most important resource, with coal and battery minerals like lithium and cobalt (both 9 per cent) also seen as important.
“We welcome the strong positive support for the world-class mining sector amongst Australians,” stated Tania Constable, CEO of the Minerals Council of Australia.
“These results show that the advocacy of the MCA, our members and other industry supporters is working to restore public support for the industry, however, the results also show that our industry needs to do more to address perceptions amongst some Australians that the industry does not do enough to manage its environmental impact, look after employees or share prosperity across the community,” she commented.
The research found that almost half of those surveyed believed mining companies should be repatriating land that had been mined, with ‘strong views’ also recorded on the need for companies to invest in health and welfare programs, including mental health and social welfare.
Ms Constable said that Australian mining has a strong track record in mine rehabilitation and investing in regional communities and that the industry should aim to provide more information to the public about their positive activities in these, and other areas to adjust perceptions.
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