Currently, social impact assessment (SIA) is used to determine social impacts across the life-of-mine (LOM) to closure. This paper draws on recently completed SIA reports from the Martha gold mine in Waihi and qualitative interviews in the community that explored post-closure options, to review the challenges mining companies face when engaging with iwi through the SIA process and what that may mean for closure planning. The Maori of New Zealand consistently lobby to have a distinct voice in resource management issues. This is in line with the evolution of indigenous participation in SIA globally and with New Zealand policies, not least of which, the Treaty of Waitangi (the founding document of New Zealand) makes provision for Maori self-determination with regard to natural resources. Land use for mining has been a source of conflict for Maori and mining can have profound cultural and social impacts on the Maori community, yet despite Treaty intentions their representation in SIA has been comparatively limited. With this in mind, the Waitangi Tribunal has released the Ko Aotearoa Tenei (Wai 262) report, which recommends far reaching reforms to laws and policies affecting Maori culture and identity including natural resource management. This landmark report seeks to move the Maori–Government relationship beyond grievance to partnership. Given suggested policy changes in Wai 262 and the risks of poorly conceived closure planning, it is timely to review where Maori currently fit into the SIA process. The findings of this research suggest that improvements to the outcomes of this process will require companies to act beyond compliance. However, these improvements may also ensure mining companies maintain their social license to operate and to ensure continued influence across the life of a project to closure.
Hill, T., Clark, P., & Everingham, J.-A. (2012). ‘There is an emptiness for Maori here in Waihi’ – Understanding indigenous perspectives on post-mine land uses in closure planning. In Life-of-Mine Conference, AusIMM: Brisbane.