How to predict opposition to your mining project


Chalkstone says it can accurately predict and help mitigate opposition to mining projects before they start.

The mining industry in Australia, and worldwide, is used to encountering opposition to some of the mining projects they undertake. However, what if there was a way for miners to predict opposition or social conflict before they even attempted the licensing process?

It may sound too good to be true, but UK-based company Chalkstone says it can do just that. Chalkstone, founded by political anthropologist and Cambridge University academic Donald Bray, uses what is called “granular social intelligence”. It’s a mix of methodologies; big data, ethnography, interviews, focus groups and quantitative analysis that helps pinpoint the attitude and social stance of a target group in relation to a project.

Calculating socio-political and community risks before the mining company has ploughed money into a project can pay enormous dividends. Mining operations can be extremely beneficial to the communities they invest in, and Chalkstone’s emphasis is on building a mutual trust that is essential to the wider success of a project.

Identify and tackle community opposition to your mining project

By identifying and tackling community and interest group concerns from the outset, Australian mining companies can theoretically save millions of dollars in delays and legal costs. It can also produce better outcomes for the communities themselves, by understanding their needs and ensuring the project offers them the best possible benefits.

“It’s not that local communities don't want jobs and education and progress. They want all of these things. But they also want to be included in that decision-making process. What they don't want is for decisions to happen to them,” Bray has said.

The company has already achieved success. In 2015 Chalkstone advised Gemfields with an emerald mine in Colombia. It created a successful SMS communications platform Suna Verde (meaning Green Pathway in the local language) which enabled the company and community to talk to each other. It also provided important local information and soon, Suna Verde became one of the region's chief sources of information.

From civil war and insurgency to employment and community concerns, Chalkstone’s aim is to identify issues before a mining company puts down roots, helping to mitigate and eradicate issues before they arise. And with the sheer cost involved with mining projects globally, the company’s crystal ball sounds like one worth looking into.

Looking for a team for your next mining project? Get in touch with Mining People International. Our expert consultants will help you find the right people for your project.



Lindsay McPhee
Mining People International