What follows is a description of the nature and duration of each phase of a typical minerals project, from exploration through to post-closure.

  1. Exploration - can be fairly non-invasive in early stages, increasingly so as study advances - can last for 10 to 20 years and several changes of company.
  2. Feasiility and planning - involves increasingly advanced studies, some conceptual, some on the ground and involving community engagement - may last for 5 to 10 years.
  3. Land access - depends upon jurisdiction and local ownership. May be swift or involve years of negotiation with local landowners and governments.
  4. Construction - depending on the scale of the mine may take 1 to 5 years. Highly disruptive to local communities.
  5. Operations - may last 5 to 100 years. Can be unsettling to workforce and local communities.
  6. Decommissioning and closure - could take 1 to 5 years. Can be unsettling to workforce and local communities as services are withdrawn.
  7. Post closure - could last from a decade to perpetuity, depending upon how difficult it is to meet completion criteria.

Source: C. Macdonald, Social Sustainability Services Pty Ltd

The kinds of community engagement and development activities that are appropriate at each stage for each of the elements of a sustainable community development program are described in table form under each heading below. Footnote 1 The activities table for each stage provides illustrative examples of the types of community relations activities that may be needed at that phase of the project life cycle, in order to demonstrate how such activities can be undertaken throughout the life of a project. The examples span a wide variety of engagement and development activities, from information provision through to empowerment. They are provided to give an indication of the sorts of activities individual operations might choose to undertake—they are by no means prescriptive, as the activities listed will not be appropriate for every operation.


Footnote 1
Draft documents shared by Professor D Brereton of the Sustainable Minerals Institute of the University of Queensland have been helpful in preparing this section on the mining project cycle.

Return to footnote 1 referrer

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