His comments came days after an EY survey of 250 mining executives found more
than half now considered licence to operate the biggest risk to their businesses
amid rising nationalism, changing community perceptions of mining operations and
the impact of automation on the workforce.
Rio Tinto iron ore boss Chris Salisbury says the mining industry has a trust problem with the Australian public as the company continues to put a heavy emphasis on shoring up its social licence to operate and pushes towards an autonomous future. The 30-year industry veteran said Rio Tinto, along with other miners, needed to change and adapt to ensure its future was as strong as its past.
Mr Salisbury said he agreed with critics calling on miners to be more diverse, inclusive and progressive, but said many observers wouldn’t even know that Rio Tinto contributed $42.7 billion to GDP, or 2.5 per cent of Australian economy, last year and paid $5 billion in tax and royalties.
“In an industry that is built on the goodwill and trust of governments and communities, we need to positively engage with our neighbours and the broader community to tell our story better,” he said.
“When you put all these things together, and as much as it pains me to say it, many people don’t trust our industry. “Across many parts of the population in Australia, people are not aware of the contribution we make. They think we are not giving back as much as we should, or can.
“They think we don’t care about the environment, and don’t know how hard we actually work to minimise our impact. “They think – and here I have to agree with them – that we need to be a more diverse, inclusive and progressive industry.”