The mining boom and Western Australia’s changing landscape: Towards sustainability or business as usual?
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The practices and public reputation of mining have been changing over time. In the past, mining operations frequently stood accused of being socially and environmentally disruptive, whereas mining today invests heavily in ‘socially responsible’ and ‘sustainable’ business practices. Changes such as these can be witnessed internationally as well as in places like Western Australia (WA), where the mining sector has matured into an economic pillar of the state, and indeed the nation in the context of the recent resources boom. This paper explores the role of mining in WA, presenting a multidisciplinary perspective on the sector’s contribution to sustainable development in the state. The perspectives offered here are drawn from community-based research and the associated academic literature as well as data derived from government sources and the not-for-profit sector. Findings suggest that despite noteworthy attitudinal and operational improvements in the industry, social, economic and environmental problem areas remain. As mining in WA is expected to grow in the years to come, these problem areas require the attention of business and government alike to ensure the long-term sustainability of development as well as people and place.
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