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The challenge

The importance of community engagement

Australia’s mining industry contributes significantly to the nation’s economy as its biggest export earner. However, at home and around the world, the industry is facing growing community expectations and must gain and maintain ‘a social license to operate’ if it’s to have a productive future.

Companies must ensure they gain and hold their social license to operate.

In fact, social licence is considered one of the top risks facing mining, as well as other industries, today.

CSIRO research shows that trust between companies and the communities they work alongside is a key factor influencing a social license to operate. When companies lose community trust, conflict can occur.

However, it is difficult for companies to systematically understand the complex sets of issues and concerns held by diverse communities, and communities have few constructive ways to feel heard.

Our response

Science informing a social licence

Underpinned by more than a decade of research and using world-leading social science methodology, we developed a new approach to help companies better manage their social license to operate.

This science-driven approach captures deep social insights into community sentiment across time and locations and in real time.

The approach uses community engagement, community surveys, data collection, analysis, and reports insights in a clear framework that companies can proactively respond to.

Offered as a social insights service, it helps industries and communities build greater trust and mutually-beneficial outcomes.

Voconiq co-founders, formerly from CSIRO, left to right: CEO Kieren Moffat, Service Direcotor, Naomi Boughen, and Business Development Director, Rolf Fandrich.

The results

A new social insights service offered through Voconiq

The mining and agriculture industries are starting to adopt this solution as the world-leading model for building greater trust and better community relationships.

On the back of growing strong market demand from customers including BHP and Rio Tinto, we spun out Voconiq (formerly known as Reflexivity) in 2019.

Voconiq is a new Australian company set to grow its service to benefit more communities, the resources sector and any other industry where trust is essential to their business.

Voconiq has operations underway across five countries and in key Australian mining regions, including the Pilbara and Kalgoorlie, WA, and the Hunter Valley, NSW.

The company has longer term plans to expand further into the infrastructure, oil and gas industries and to provide its services to communities directly.

We maintain a strong social science focus across a range of industries, including mining, tourism, the marine environment, energy and onshore gas, such as through the Gas Industry Social and Environmental Research Alliance.

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