Social Development

The resources sector contributes to the social development of communities in a variety of ways, including providing opportunities for Indigenous communities and Aboriginal people: BelowArrium signs off on a workforce contract with Aboriginal contractor Walga Mining (left), participants in a Santos program (right.)

social dev Walga social dev santos


Social participation

With the exodus of youth an issue in many regional communities, mining and oil & gas activity can provide an opportunity for people to work in their local area. Some exploration companies in agricultural areas are investigating cyclical employment, enabling employees to work on farms in peak periods and on the potential mine at quieter times. Mining and oil & gas activities can provide employment for many people to continue living where they desire, while working on the land and contributing to their local communities. Increasing populations to regional areas and providing alternatives for local people to work near home has many benefits, including providing new participants for sporting and community activities and adding to a community’s vibrancy and improved quality of life for community members.

Resourcing SA spring workersAbove, left to right: Sabrina (from the Kalparrin community near Coober Pedy) works at OZ Minerals' Prominent Hill mine; Kingsley (Pt Augusta) works at Heathgate's Beverley mine; Tim (Wudinna farmer, Eyre Peninsula) works at Iron Road; and Ava (raised near Broken Hill) is a Geology student at the University of Adelaide. You can read about their stories in the Spring 2015 issue of Resourcing SA. Sabrina, Kingsley and Tim are enjoying working on and around the land while helping to improve opportunities within their local communities. 


Individual mining and energy companies contribute to charitable organisations, schools, hospitals, community programs and events, emergency services and a whole range of projects to support and improve the social fabric of communities. These contributions are voluntary and in addition to the extensive taxes and royalties paid to Federal and State Governments.

Community initiatives

Mining and energy companies employ communications and consultation strategies to ensure they are well informed of specific priorities within the communities in which they operate. These include close liaison with community leaders, community meetings, community consultative committees, newsletters to stakeholders and more. Often individual employees have positions on local councils or committees where they are able to contribute to decision making in regards to social improvements.

Outcomes  are often initiatives of the resource company, or collaborations with charitable organisations and other groups to improve the well-being of a community in areas such as health and education.

Social infrastructure

Adequate social infrastructure is just as important in regional communities as ‘hard’ infrastructure. Increased populations to mining and oil & gas regions bring improvements to schools, hospitals and other essential social infrastructure. These improvements come about through the natural demands on public services arising from an increased population; the ability of a higher population to support improvements through increased user contributions; and often through financial contributions from resource companies operating in the region. 

Advancing Aboriginal opportunities

The resources sector is committed to advancing opportunities for Aboriginal people. This may be facilitated through a Native Title agreement such as an Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA - structured to bring benefits to local Aboriginal communities) or through the initiatives of resource companies to employ and train Aboriginal people residing near their operations or improve their health and education outcomes.

Companies often fund Indigenous initiatives, such as the massive $17.5 million BHP Billiton granted to the Art Gallery of South Australia in 2016 to run the national Indigenous visual arts festival - Tarnanthi - for five years. A sponsorship of this magnitude not only provides opportunities and recognition for Aboriginal people, but encourages tourism and more by enhancing South Australia's reputation as a premier arts and festivals destination.

Refer also to our Indigenous Relations page.