A new proposal could ask mining companies to lay out benefits of big projects to communities before receiving approval.
The Regional Australian Institute (RIA), set up by the federal government, said in a new report that approval procedures are not fully taking into account the social consequences of resources projects, resulting in hostility against fly in, fly out work practices.
Titled ‘Benefits of the Boom’, the Regional Policy Briefing proposes a Canadian system of community benefit plans may help garner locals’ support, the AFR reported.
“The consternation over FIFO work patterns is reflective of the wider challenges in the current resources development systems in Australia,” the report said.
“The long term socio-economic benefits of resource projects for smaller regional communities are not assured simply by the presence of a project.”
The briefing is in response to a biting review in February by a parliamentary committee headed by independent MP Tony Windsor, which called the FIFO trend a ‘cancer of the bush’ sparking fury from miners.
The RIA said mining companies benefit directly from a project and state governments are paid royalties but the indirect benefits go to capital cities or large regional centres, which provide labour and specialist services.
But the community where the project takes place does not benefit, according to the institute.
It recommends there should be processes that handle the risks of big projects to a community like instability in the housing market, and ‘crowding out’ of other industries that cannot survive with the wages or rent paid by a mining company.