RESEARCH: Dr Kanakis interviewed 37 residents across Moranbah, Emerald and Mount Isa for the study.
RESEARCH: Dr Kanakis interviewed 37 residents across Moranbah, Emerald and Mount Isa for the study.

Mining towns less connected to ‘faceless’ giants: study

PEOPLE who live in mining towns feel more connected to their community if the mining company is locally owned, rather than operated by multinational corporations, new research has shown.

The research, conducted by James Cook University's Dr Katerina Kanakis, found long-term residents' identification with their mining community was threatened when local companies were sold to large corporations.

Dr Kanakis said the term "local companies" referred to historical mines which had established communities, such as the case of Mount Isa.

Dr Kanakis interviewed 37 residents in Emerald, Moranbah and Mount Isa as part of her research.

"The long-term residents I spoke to said they're seeing a change in the mining industry from being locally-owned to being owned by giant 'faceless' corporations," she said.

"The feeling of 'faceless' ownership means the residents tend to trust the mining corporation or industry less, and leads them to feel like they're being taken advantage of."

Dr Kanakis said residents felt the "community" feeling was lost when large corporations took over.

"When the companies were locally-owned they would hold parties and events for the community but that's no longer happening with the new ownership, so the feeling is they're no longer a contributing part of the community," she said.

Dr Kanakis said mining companies needed to demonstrate a genuine interest in community wellbeing in order to redevelop their bond with communities.

"Participants in my research reported some positive impacts of mining, but they were more likely to say it had a negative impact on community wellbeing," she said.

"Relationships are essential for maintaining a community. These companies need to offer more than just employment in a mine."

Resource Industry Network general manager Adrienne Rourke questioned some of the findings.

"The world has changed and so has the way businesses are owned," Ms Rourke said.

"We have transitioned to a different way of doing business. I don't think it means mining houses are less engaged because they have a different ownership structure."

She also noted governments had for some time required mining companies to demonstrate their contributions to community, as stipulated in approvals for mining leases.