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From No to Know: Changing NIMBY Attitudes Toward Mining
Experts detail strategies to overcome NIMBYism and gaining support for responsible mining projects through communication, education, and local engagement.
NIMBYism (Not In My Backyard) is a major challenge facing the mining industry today. At our recent Monthly Mining Roundup livestream, our expert team was joined by Ryan Sistad of Better In Our Back Yard to discuss strategies for overcoming NIMBYism and building support for responsible mining projects.
What is NIMBYism?
NIMBY is "a person who objects to the siting of something perceived as unpleasant or hazardous in the area where they live, especially while raising no such objections to similar developments elsewhere." This is not a concept only related to the mining industry, but also logging, oil, and affordable housing.
In mining, factors driving NIMBYism include environmental concerns, negative industry perceptions, and lack of community involvement. While attitudes differ globally, NIMBYism greatly impacts permitting timelines and can stall projects.
John, Emily, and Ryan shared personal experiences with NIMBYism from across North America and throughout their careers. They highlighted the need for improved public education on modern mining practices and benefits like jobs and economic activity. Showcasing sustainability advances and putting real faces to the industry can shift perceptions.
Several strategies were proposed for combatting NIMBYism:
- Proactive community engagement and mine tours to make mining real for locals
- Collaboration between companies on marketing the industry’s social value
- Emphasizing mining’s role in domestically supplying minerals for clean energy
- Encouraging public participation in project feedback processes
- Progress on ESG reporting standards across the industry
The group stressed avoiding threatening tones against NIMBYism. Respectful communication and early inclusion of stakeholders, like Indigenous groups, is key.
Global Mining Project Stages & Implications
Looking into global industry data on the Prospector database shows:
- 39.7% of projects are in the Grassroots stage
- 3% of projects are in the Permitting & Feasibility stage
- Less than 1% of projects are in the Construction Stage
- 8.5% of projects are current producers
NIMBYism is a factor stalling advancement from exploration to production. The group noted that addressing NIMBYism could help portfolio companies acquire funding to develop discoveries. They advocated for major mining companies to increase exploration investment and help juniors shoulder costs.
With NIMBYism playing a role in permitting timelines, what does this mean for the future supply chain gap of metals? Prospector data shows that globally, projects currently in the production stage have a Life of Mine estimate of only 15 years. On average, a mine takes 15.7 years to go from discovery to productions. Do we have enough projects in the pipeline, and enough global support of them, to cover the supply gap?
The panelists and commenters provided insightful perspectives on transforming NIMBYism into community support. While complex, focusing on empathy, engagement, education, and communication with stakeholders may pave the way for responsible mining approval. What solutions do you think could shift attitudes in your region?