Upper Hunter, New South Wales (2010 - 2013)

BHP Billiton Mt Arthur Coal Sustainable Communities Project

A 'whole of community' engagement program to determine the positive and negative cumulative impacts of mining on a local community and opportunities to address these impacts via community investments and collaboration.


  • A progressive research and community engagement project designed to inform Mt Arthur Coal's community investment strategy to address cumulative impacts
  • Moved Mt Arthur Coal and the community from traditional forms of engagement along the spectrum towards collaboration and empowerment
  • A strong focus on engaging with disadvantaged and marginalised groups
  • The project included a range of studies and plans developed in association with Andrea Young Planning Consultants, Pam Bourke Consulting, Fiona Caniglia and SGS Economics and Planning:
    • Social and Economic Impact and Opportunities Assessment (SEIOA) to identify the impacts and opportunities, which formed a baseline and rationale for determining social investments
    • Stakeholder Engagement and Consultation Plan (SECP) engagement with community, reporting on outcomes, providing a framework for ongoing community engagement, establishing an inter-mining collaboration
    • Community Development Management Plan (CDMP) providing a five-year investment action plan
    • Annual community engagement and perceptions survey to measure and monitor the impacts of community investment program.
  • Established an inter-mining company forum to address sustainable community investment and development opportunities, which strengthened industry engagement
  • Established stronger levels of trust with the community and stakeholders by providing them with opportunities to participate in the process, via open dialogue
  • Previously unknown impacts identified i.e. impacts to homeless and disadvantaged groups

key success factors

  • Based on extensive, leading practice stakeholder and community engagement to gain a better understanding of community perceptions of the cumulative impacts of mining.
  • Engagement was significant and highly representative with over 950 participants or 8% of the Muswellbrook Shire directly engaged through this process.
  • Largest rate of participation in an engagement program seen in the Muswellbrook community.
  • Working collaboratively with the community service, economic, health, education and business sectors and broader community to identify collective opportunities for addressing and measuring impacts.