This week, we’re looking at the community welfare issues extraction-based communities face and how local government can support their regeneration and a just transition to new industries.
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“Extraction based communities” are places with an economy and identity tied to the extraction of natural resources. Extraction, be it mining or forestry, is and has been a cornerstone of economies around the world, offering jobs and security, as well as a sense of local identity and pride, to millions. While some materials remain essential to modern life, such as copper and iron, recent decades have seen the scaling down and closure of other extraction industries, such as coal. Coal mining’s environmental impact on local ecosystems and health impacts on workers and local communities, alongside its contribution to climate change, has seen it become one of the first fossil fuels to be partly phased out of energy sectors around the globe. While the transition away from pollutants like coal should be welcomed, the negative impact on local communities when mines close is significant. Former extraction-based communities face immediate challenges such as high unemployment, poverty, environmental damage, crime rates and public health issues, and as always it is local governments who must be there to pick up the pieces.
So what can be done? This edition of Global Local examines the issues that affect extraction-based communities, securing a just transition for regions highly dependent on phased-out industries, and creative ways councils can celebrate their mining heritage while supporting their own local economies.
In Brief: featured content
Digging deep to honour mining heritage
By Ingrid Koehler, LGIU
When non-renewable resources play out, as they inevitably do, a hole is often left not just in the ground, but in the heart of the community.
Some places are building on their mining heritage through tourism and museums which tell the story of mining and provide the dual purpose of supporting local economies as well as telling the story of mining and mining people. These efforts are often supported local government.
Plus, some people just like a mine tour. I’m one of them and so is my partner. This article serves the dual purpose of highlighting exemplary displays of mining heritage as well as creating a new bucket list of mining attractions for our future holidays.
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LGIU Global Local Highlights
A Just Transition – Supporting Communities Dependant on Coal Mining
This briefing looks at the potential impact of a shift away from coal on regional communities in Australia highly dependent on the coal mining industry. It will be of interest to councillors, local government leaders, as well as those involved in environmental sustainability strategies and economic development.
Innovation & Inspiration
Curated case studies and news from around the globe
Slovakia: Mayors prepare for coal-free future in mining region
The region of Upper Nitra, Slovakia has a proud history of coal mining, looked on fondly among the area’s middle-aged and elderly population. This has made discussions over a coal phaseout difficult according to Katarína Macháčková, the mayor of Prievidza, Upper Nitra. The national government is currently subsiding the region’s mines with close to 100 million Euro each year, but these subsidies are expected to end before 2030. In response, Ms Macháčková launched several public debates and workshops to devise an action plan for a post-coal Upper Nitra. 50 local stakeholders became involved, eventually including every local government representative for the entire region. In developing strategic priorities, the working groups examined the region’s existing and potential resources and any barriers to overcome, such as improving accessibility to create new jobs. In Prievidza, the municipality also created a municipal company that would hire retrained miners to repair and renovate roads in an effort to offset the gradual decline in mining with the gradual creation of new local jobs. The action plan devised for Upper Nitra by local stakeholders has since formed part of a national government strategy on the region, while Upper Nitra has also been chosen as one of four pilot regions for an EU programme on just transitions for coal mining regions.
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Policy & Resources
Toolkit: Mine Closure: A Toolbox for Governments
SRK Consulting (U.S.) Inc. was commissioned by the World Bank Group to develop a toolbox for governments to use in the development of mine closure frameworks. The tools and checklists that it comprises are based on good practice for mine closure. This includes cost estimating, social, environmental and technical aspects. Guidance is also provided in respect of financial assurance implementation, management and release.
Report: The End of Coal Mining in South Wales: Lessons learned from industrial transformation
This case study reviews the economic and political context of coal mining in South Wales, also known as ‘the Valleys.’ It provides some indication of how mitigation options can be developed in other mining areas facing major industrial change and realignment.
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Check out a (very depressing) collection of mining cuts curated by our head of content and resident country expert Ingrid Koehler…
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