Latest Publications


Regional planning approaches to mining infrastructure aim to reduce the conflict associated with mining operations and existing land uses, such as urban areas and biodiversity conservation, as well as the cumulative impacts that occur offsite. In this paper, we describe a method for conducting Geographical Information System (GIS) least-cost path and least-cost corridor analysis for linear mining infrastructure, such as roads. Least-cost path analysis identifies the optimal pathways between two locations as a function of the cost of traveling through different land use/cover types. In a case study from South-East Sulawesi, Indonesia, we identify potential linear networks for road infrastructure connecting mines, smelters, and ports. The method used interview data from government officials to characterise their orientation (perceived importance and positive/negative attitude) toward the social and environmental factors associated with mining infrastructure. A cost-surface was constructed by integrating spatial layers representing the social and environmental factors to identify areas that should be avoided and areas that were compatible with linear infrastructure using the least-cost path analysis. We compared infrastructure scenario outputs from local and national government officials by the degree of spatial overlap and found broad spatial agreement for infrastructure corridors. We conclude by discussing this approach in relation to the wider social-ecological and mine planning literature and how quantitative approaches can reduce the conflict associated with infrastructure planning.


Century Mine, in the lower Gulf of Carpentaria region of far north-west Queensland, ceased zinc production in late 2015 after 16 years of operation. This makes it one of the most significant planned mine closures in Queensland, and indeed Australia, in decades. It is also an important milestone with regard to the landmark Gulf Communities Agreement (GCA) that has governed relations between the traditional owners of the region and the mine owners since 1997.

This paper provides a brief account of the history of the GCA and the outcomes it has delivered. It also draws out lessons for other projects in Australia and overseas that have local-level agreements with Indigenous Peoples, or will be required or expected to develop these in the future.

The paper is the outcome of a collaboration between MMG Century management and CSRM staff who were involved in conducting a 15-year review of the GCA in 2013.The paper also draws on the earlier five- and ten-year reviews, as well as other studies undertaken by CSRM and other researchers (including Blowes and Trigger’s comprehensive account of the negotiation of the GCA, as seen from the perspective of the native title parties1). In addition, valuable historical details and insights were obtained from a roundtable in November 2014 hosted by CSRM and MMG Century, which was attended by eleven people who had played a prominent role in negotiating or implementing the GCA at various stages. The roundtable represented a mix of company, government and community perspectives.


This report represents the second stage of an applied research project looking into the effectiveness of certification schemes in the minerals industry and the potential role sustainability certification schemes can play to improve standards for responsible mining.

This report identified that participants interviewed have varied expectations and ideas about the drivers for participation in certification schemes, and also how different design characteristics influence the effectiveness of sustainability certification schemes in mining. There was also a range of views on how these differences influence outcomes on the ground in terms of ultimate development or conservation impact. Participants provided different insights and recommendations regarding nine different main topics: Stakeholder Participation; Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) mechanisms; Interoperability; Transparency; Assurance; Standards; Sanctions for Non-Compliance; Local Development; and Capacity Building.

The content of this report will be used during the following stages of this research project (interviews and fieldwork) as a base to further explore how different design characteristics leads to better outcomes and to provide recommendations to improve the practice.

The research is being undertaken by the Centre for Social Responsibility in Mining (CSRM) at The University of Queensland and funded by The Tiffany & Co. Foundation through a grant to the University of Queensland in America.


This article examines the application of social risk in the global mining industry. The current approach to social risk conflates risk to people and risk to projects. We argue that differentation is needed to determine the respective attributes of both risk types and to understand how ans where they interact.

Establishing a clear understanding about where a risk is directed is important from multiple vantage points: due diligence, risk and liability management and social protections.


The Philippines is one of Asia’s biggest producers of copper, nickel, chrome, zinc, gold and silver (Castillo & Alvarez-Castillo 2009). The Philippines represents an interesting case study of the operationalisation of FPIC, as it is one of the few countries to have adopted the principle into its domestic legislation. FPIC is included in the Indigenous People’s Rights Act (IPRA; Republic Act No. 8371, Republic of Philippines 1997) and is mentioned in Executive Order No. 79 (Office of the President of the Philippines 2012), which refers to the Mining Act (1995).

The IPRA (Republic Act No. 8371, 1997) was modelled on the draft UNDRIP, but was passed ten years before the adoption of UNDRIP, and as such represents a landmark legislation internationally (Colchester & Ferrari 2007; Doyle & Cariño 2013). It outlines the obligations of the state to recognise and promote all the rights of Indigenous Cultural Communities (ICCs) and IPs and protect their rights to their ancestral domains to ensure their economic, social and cultural wellbeing (Republic of Philippines 1997). This includes the recognition of customary laws and practices and the rights of ICCs/IPs to preserve and develop their cultures, traditions and institutions.

FPIC is defined by the IPRA (Republic of the Philippines 1997) as:

the consensus of all members of the ICCs/IPs to be determined in accordance with their respective customary laws and practices, free from any external manipulation, interference and coercion, and obtained after fully disclosing the intent and scope of the activity, in a language and process understandable to the community […]

FPIC is required for the exploration, development and use of natural resources; displacement and relocation; and the entry of military personnel, as well as for research and bioprospecting; archaeological explorations; and policies affecting Indigenous people (Castillo & Alvarez-Castillo 2009, p. 277). The IPRA (in theory) gives IPs in the Philippines the right to stop or suspend projects that do not satisfy the consultation process required by the law (Castillo & Alvarez-Castillo 2009, p. 277).

The National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) is the government agency responsible for implementing the IPRA and certifying FPIC (Minter et al. 2012). The NCIP is headed by seven commissioners from major groupings of IPs and also has regional offices (Castillo & Alvarez-Castillo 2009). The Commissioners have administrative, quasi-judicial and quasi-legislative powers (Oxfam America 2013).