Miner struggles to win community trust
Environment a key issue but many know little or nothing about Julimar forest drilling
Drilling last year in Julimar State Forest – a State-registered Conservation Park in the Shire of Toodyay.
By Michael Sinclair-Jones
MOST people don’t fully trust Chalice Mining to act in the best interest of the local community, according to a new company survey of plans to mine Julimar Conservation Park and nearby farmlands.
More than 20 per cent of Toodyay residents said they don’t trust Chalice “at all”, another 18 per cent said they trust the miner only “slightly” and a further 36 per cent said Chalice can be trusted just “moderately”.
Only a quarter (25 per cent) of all respondents said they trusted Chalice “very much” or “extremely”.Read more
To a question “I will not support a potential future mine in general regardless of what the company says or does”, 56 per cent – the survey’s largest response – said “not at all”.
The company said the double-negative response was “actually positive” for Chalice.
It said mixing positive and negative statements in surveys was a “tried and tested” approach to limit bias and the response was “good/ positive” for Chalice.
The company said it was consistent with responses to another question which showed that 58 per cent of people were “moderately to extremely” supportive of mining on Chalice-owned private farmland south of Julimar Road.
“We are encouraged that 61 per cent of respondents have moderate to extremely high levels of trust in Chalice,” the company said.
“This compares favourably with the level of trust in Federal and State Governments and is typical of the level of trust respondents have for the mining industry generally”.
The company’s “Local Voices” survey of 283 local residents in April offered a $10 donation to local community groups for every response it received.
Chalice said it generated $2476 in community donations after some people chose to opt out of the donor offer.
The miner says it has donated a total of $250,000 in two years to local community events such as the Moondyne Festival, Toodyay Show, International Food Fair and Christmas Street Party as well as to local volunteer fire brigades, the Country Women’s Association, Marsupial Mammas and Pappas Wildlife, miniature railway, Toodyay Recreation Centre and sports clubs.
It provided a further $4.73 million to Chalice contractors and “the local economy”.
A recent statement to the Australian Stock Exchange valued the company at $2.5 billion, with $145 million in cash reserves.
Chalice announced a 50 per cent increase in the size of its “world class” Julimar deposit in March and a “strong option” to build a kilometre-wide pit to extract three million tonnes of ore on private land bounded by Keating Road, Plunkett Road, Beach Road and Julimar Road.
The company also announced “enormous growth potential” in a much larger area being drilled in Julimar State Forest, which is a State-registered conservation park.
“The need to decarbonise the global economy will underpin long-term demand for the green metals at Julimar,” the company told an investor forum in June.
Chalice said earlier that it was seeking new partners to mine and process millions of tonnes of Julimar ore in future decades.
Last month’s community survey results showed that only a quarter of respondents knew “much” or a “great deal” about Chalice’s current exploration activities.
A third said they had “some” knowledge, and 41 per cent said they had “none” or only “a little” knowledge of it.
A total of 81 per cent of people surveyed said the environment was “very” or “extremely” important.
Chalice Mining CEO Alex Dorsch said community consultation was integral to his company’s approach.
“We are committed to being open and transparent with the local community at all times,” he said.
“We are encouraged by the fact that the majority of respondents to our initial community survey support the potential development of a mine at Gonneville, which is located on Chalice-owned farmland, given the significant benefits this would generate for local communities and the State.
“We will continue to broaden and improve our consultation with the community as we progress our project.”