A national survey reveals the importance of mining to Chile and Chileans and uncovers a wealth of information on benefits and impacts of mining that contribute to public acceptance and the industry’s ‘social licence to operate’.

About the survey

The development of the mining sector over recent years has been integral to the rapid development of the Chilean economy. Yet mining must also demonstrate that it has a 'social licence to operate' among those communities in the regions where it operates and within society more broadly.

This research aims to bring the voice of the citizens of Chile, on whose behalf Chile's mineral and energy resources are managed, into the centre of a conversation about the role of the mining industry in our society.

To better understand what Chileans think about mining, CSIRO conducted a survey of 1 598 Chileans in late 2013. The survey results are published in the report Chilean attitudes toward mining: Citizen Survey - 2014 Results and data from the survey can be explored from a data portal (see below).

English cover of Chilean attitudes towards mining

The CSIRO Chilean attitudes towards mining report

The survey helps us to understand how the impacts and benefits of mining, and the relationship between the mining industry, government and society, affects acceptance of mining among Chile's citizens. It also sheds light on what constitutes a 'social licence to operate' for mining in Chile.

This research goes beyond basic descriptive accounts of attitudes towards extractive industries to examine the relationship between mining and society in a more constructive and sophisticated way.

It explores what factors influence trust in the extractive industries and the government regarding the development of mining, for example, the relationship between good governance and social acceptance of the extractive industries, and identify key issues for the extractive industries and related stakeholders to facilitate a productive dialogue.

This survey forms part of a larger CSIRO program of work examining the relationship between mining and society at different scales.

Key findings

Key findings from the survey reveal:

  • overall, mining was viewed as a central and necessary economic pillar for Chile
  • employment, improvements to regional infrastructure as a result of mining, and general economic benefits were the strongest positive predictors of acceptance. In general, those living in mining areas perceived the benefits from mining much more positively than those in non-mining and the Metropolitan area
  • impacts on the environment, particularly water quality, and impacts on the agricultural sector were the strongest negative predictors of acceptance. In general, the negative impacts of mining were rated significantly more strongly by those living in mining regions, followed by those in non-mining regions, and then respondents in the Metropolitan area
  • Chileans trust and accept the mining industry more when they feel heard by the industry, when it is responsive to their concerns, when benefits from mining are shared equitably, and when the legislative and regulatory frameworks we have in place provide confidence that industry will do the right thing
  • governance capacity in particular appears to be very important in Chile for building trust and acceptance of the mining industry
  • holding a social licence to operate is therefore the responsibility of governments and industry working together with communities to promote effective, constructive, and mutually beneficial relationships.

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