Surrounded by Change

Intensive resource extraction, in the form of multiple mining operations, presents significant assessment and management challenges for resource developers, governments, community and the environment. Cumulative impacts, ie the successive, incremental and combined impacts (both positive and negative) of an activity on society, the economy and the environment, can place significant pressure on social, economic and environmental capital and render conventional mine-by-mine approaches to management ineffective. Cumulative impacts can be what are most important to environments, communities and economies surrounded by multiple mining operations because cumulative impacts are what they experience. There is much to gain from increased consideration of cumulative impacts. Unmitigated impacts have the potential to delay or even prevent expansion of mining in existing and prospective areas. On the other hand proactive management of cumulative impacts can benefit regional environments and communities and contribute to the industry's social license to operate. Resources are often not the limiting factor to better cumulative impact management. More effective coordination of existing resources may go a long way toward mitigation and enhancement, and better planning and assessment may help avoid impacts and exploit opportunities for efficiency gains through reduced duplication. In this paper we draw from working examples to present five practical assessment and management strategies applicable to resource companies to enhance positive, and avoid and mitigate negative, cumulative impacts. The strategies are presented based on their capacity for achieving outcomes, ease of implementation and cost effectiveness and are drawn from a multi-year study on the assessment and management of cumulative impacts in the Hunter Valley, New South Wales and a follow-up study to improve cumulative impact assessment and management practice in the Australian coal mining industry, both reported elsewhere.

Publisher: SDIMI 2009

Region: Australia

Type: Conference Paper


Franks, D. et al. 2009. Surrounded by Change

Surrounded by Change