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Socially and Environmentally responsible Mining Companies culminate sustainable food systems; resulting in improving their own bottom line

Photo of Abbey McKenna
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Lead Applicant Organization Name

Resource and Primary Industry (RPI) Solutions

Lead Applicant Organization Type

  • Small company (under 50 employees)

If part of a multi-stakeholder entity (i.e. team), provide the names of other organizations and types of stakeholders collaborating with you.

Low Impact Technologies: Dale Polk, Inventor, and Director Mike Spence: BAppSc Environmental Analysis (CSU), Civil and Plant Engineer, Consultant A range of Central Eyre Peninsula Primary Producers

Website of Legally Registered Entity

How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?

  • 10+ years

Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?

Moresby, WA, Australia

Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?


Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?

The Central Eyre Peninsula of South Australia is a Sub Region of the Eyre Peninsula and consists of approximately 21,000 square kilometers.

What country is your selected Place located in?


Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.

Abbey McKenna was born into a Pioneer, 6th Generation Farming family and raised on the Central Eyre Peninsula. She has experienced and witnessed the hardships that come with farming, and understands that the future is grim without water security. She has seen more recent issues such as the transition of operating mines; lack of support and clarity from policy; shifting cultural trends; impact the growth and livelihoods of her home community.

The potential to grow, develop and create synergies between mining, community and agrifood business is obvious, and if done correctly, would positively impact all stakeholders. 

There are a number of mines both at the feasibility and full-scale production stage. Such operations threaten Primary production and the resources vital for the success and growth of the food system in the region. 

Research and decision-makers are beginning to explore the huge potential to ensure synergies and best practice value-adding systems between farming and mining. There is no concrete policy or system that ensures and optimizes a positive impact once the operation closes. This vision showcases the options for prosperity, growth, and benefits for the mining company, Primary producers, community, food systems. Beginning in the Eyre Peninsula and being adopted across other Regions and Countries.

The key feature of the system is agriculture. Maintaining agriculture and its connections to other features is integral to the viability of the population, community groups, social fabric, service provision, and the regional economy Central Eyre subregion. Often the operations of Mining and Resources in a Region has a Negative Impact on Agriculture in a Region due to mismanagement of resources and community. We want to provide a vision in which the operations of Mining and Resources in the Region enhances Agriculture in the Central Eyre Peninsula, resulting in positive flow-on effects to other key features of the system. 

Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.

The Central Eyre Peninsula (CEP) is a remote and regional community that relies on natural resources and local landscapes for survival and lifestyles. Agriculture is the main livelihood and the community and many farmers are generational, pioneer farms.

Community Spirit, resilience and mateship runs strong in the CEP and the people believe that they can overcome most challenges.

The Eyre Peninsula is known for its high-quality produce, it is a part of Australia's Seafood Frontier. The CEP has a growing “bevvy of boutique producers”, including heritage pork, saltbush lamb, olive oil, honey, wine, and beer.

CEP experiences a Mediterranean climate with cooler wet winters and warm to hot dry summers. Average rainfall ranges from around 270 mm to just over 400 mm per year. Nearly 60% of rainfall falls between May and September, The soils of Central Eyre are diverse.

There are a few inland watercourses. Assessments of the conditions of several of the creeks classified all as being in poor or very poor condition, largely due to the degraded condition of riparian vegetation and the high salinities. 

An important indicator of community connection is volunteering rates. Volunteering rates are very high in Central Eyre at around 45%, with 1 in 2 people volunteering in some areas.

Central Eyre residents enjoy a range of land and water-based sports and recreational activities including football, netball, cricket, and tennis as well as fishing, boating and bushwalking. These activities provide opportunities for community connections to be established and maintained. 

1% of the population identifies as Indigenous or Torres Strait Islander. A significant portion of the region's population stems from European Pioneers who took up opportunity on the land. The population has been declining due to the pressures of drought and the inability to “make ends meet”. 

Approximately 97% of the regions Eyre Peninsula regions grain is exported and total agricultural exports are valued at $882 million per annum.

Just over 65% of the Central Eyre subregion is used for dryland cropping including wheat, barley, oats, canola, and legumes are grown. Central Eyre on average produces about 50% of the Eyre Peninsula wheat crop, about 20% of South Australia’s total production. Nearly 40% of employment is in agriculture.

Technology, research, and innovation drive agriculture to produce higher yields using lower inputs in a more sustainable way. Soil salinity and acidification currently affect agricultural productivity in some areas of Central Eyre and may increase further in the future. 

The region produces high-quality lamb, beef and seafood. 

Commercial wild fisheries and aquaculture are an important industry 

Mining includes granite, jade, sand, gypsum and Iron ore. 

The people hope Mining Companies and Governments will provide the means for a legacy that allows the town not only to continue, but to prosper. They hope for water security and a sustainable and prosperous future.

What is the approximate size of your Place, in square kilometers? (New question, not required)


What is the estimated population (current 2020) in your Place?


Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.

Food System - Comunity, Environment, and Primary Producers

Water demand is projected to exceed supply by 2025

Mining Industry increases demand on water by up to 58,007 (ML) by 2023 - 2032

Low quality and quantity of water sources 

Food system developments may result in population growth and stock numbers, in turn resulting in increased water demand

CSIRO studies (2006) have indicated that rainfall is expected to decrease and temperatures increase

The hardships drought have taken its toll on the community over the years and the introduction of mining is a more recent factor that creates uncertainty of water scarcity and security and strain on farmers. 

Policymakers debate the right to mine vs the right to farm. 

Generational farming families are having to leave with low job prospects. 

It has destroyed my family’s dream and legacy of the continuing family farm through generations. The community feels bullied by mining companies and let down by Governments. We feel robbed and desperate. Mining can compulsorily acquire our land and will further deplete farming resources. It makes it hard to plan.

Primary Producers ar facing compulsory acquisition of their land. Mine closure often results in a drastic negative impact on the community and long-lasting consequences on job quality and quantity, local development, environment, municipal and social services.

We don’t want to be the next ‘dying town’ due to lack of water and opportunity left by mining”.

Mining Companies

Time constraints, lack of data and proof make it hard to adopt new technologies and ideas to achieve a circular economy.

Lacking supply chain connections for downstream users/purchasers of water and waste

Current Mining culture is driven by meeting profit and production KPI’s and please investors. Working in harmony with the current food system and stakeholders to meet mutual outcomes in a purposeful way is not an option, it is an obligation if they wish to obtain a social license to operate. 

However, to date, practices towards a circular economy, that utilize a multi-pronged system, built on social justice are often spoken about and appear in research and recommendation papers, but are not firmly put into policy and practice.

Governing policy such as the “South Australian Multiple Land Use Framework” does not provide concrete Industry rules, policies, accountability or examples in how to best meet these obligations without diminishing profits of the operation. Mining CEO’s feel limited in bandwidth and expertise to change the way things have been done. 

ESG investment trends and pressure are forcing mining companies to shift their focus from production and profits, to consider and respect sustainability and ethics if they want to remain attractive to investors.

Best land use and rehab guidelines do not successfully provide a structure capable of reaching true potential for both the mining company and community. Communities are concerned that corporate responsibility will not be adhered to.

Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.

This vision actualizes a duplicatable system that shapes policies, decision making, best practice and synergy between extractive companies (mining, oil, and gas, etc) and agri-food systems in creating prosperous outcomes, by utilizing Circular economies.

Mining and Resource Companies operating within the CEP will have a complete and useable framework enabling them to act upon their social and Environmental Responsibilities. A comprehensive, evidence-based and measurable policy and framework will provide the means for Mining Companies to fully integrate water sustainability, resource recovery, environmental stewardship, best land use, and circular economy or closed-loop activities into their practice.

Supply chains and options for commercialization, remanufacture or repurposing of waste (e.g. salts for consumption and drilling fluid, effluent from camp for biochar) will be identified. 

Water demand and supply issues will be relinquished by reusing 100% of the water used in all areas of operations will be recovered, repurposed, recycled and reused in practices such as (examples only):

- Internal Use to provide better Water Security- Best Land Use Practices (Rehabilitation and Conservation)

- Social Legacy (Passed onto farmers and communities for irrigation, stock water, and municipal purposes)

- Food Systems Enterprise (used to create vertical and hydroponic farming systems for growing crops such as vegetables and quick growing fodder)

The vision will inspire new technologies to Recycle, Reuse and repurpose water used in mining operations to provide water security for agribusiness. It purposes for detailed examples of best Water and Land use, Circular economies and the technology available and emerging to implement such things successfully. 

A solid framework will also meet ESG investors' requirements allowing mining companies to reap the benefits of cost recovery, improve their reputation and evolve to meet Environmental and Social KPI’s that are being introduced now and in the future. 

Farmers no longer have to vacate the land or downsize and loose what generations before have worked for and what they have worked for decades. They can be offered a more prosperous alternative provided by accompanies circular economy practice that utilizes recovered water, and resources (e.g. vertical farms to replace conventional crops)

High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.

In 2050, the CEP community is both calm and excited about the future. 

Water worries are gone. Agribusiness is thriving from Water security provided by Mining and Resource Companies. This has a domino effect across the region. The CEP is able to keep up and grow with local and global food demand. Agribusiness continues to diversify and evolve. Fear-based decisions are a thing of the past. 

Farmers and communities are no longer finding it hard to plan and simply looking at survival and sustainability due to greater opportunity through the creation of new food systems by utilizing the water for irrigation of crops, regenerating degraded soils, and new technologies such as vertical farms, hydroponic systems, aquaculture farms. Reduced input costs alleviate business barriers and maintaining income levels and greater revenue production. There ongoing Economic and Social Development across the region.

There are greater opportunities and better mental health due to a healthy environmental, social and economic ecosystem, ongoing development, and innovation. Suicide from farming pressures is nonexistent. 

Governments support and reward water security, waste prevention and remanufacturing; and commercializing of waste streams through new legislation and initiatives 

Mining companies have gained a competitive Edge and are viewed as innovative and Industry Leaders for effective, ethical and profitable practice. Other companies begin to duplicate and policy becomes World Wide. Exceptional management of social risk and community expectations

The environment is robust. Conservation and regeneration of soil and ecology are well underway

CEP Agribusiness leads levels of the inception and uptake of innovation 

Rather than seek charity and assistance in times of need, the CEP is able to readily provide it to other regions when needed

The CEP has formal relationships with other regions within the world and is actively mentoring and working with them to introduce models of best practice

Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?

Food System Stakeholders consulted included: Primary Producers, Suppliers, Local Business, Community Members, Extractive Industry Key Personelle, Government Personelle, and Policy.

Creating Profitability, Produce, Profit and new possibilities from what was once seen to be a problem

CEP Primary producers and Iron Road have been in a stalemate for years, unable to find or agree on viable and fair outcomes and practices.

Iron Road has recently been approved Major Project status by the government and approvals have been fast-tracked. This has left many farmers with an uncertain future and the towns such as Waramboo and Wudinna with no clear indication of their ability to survive with huge and long-lasting impacts that come from my operations and mine closures. 

Key personal have described the situation to us as precarious and difficult.

This Vision has been shaped over many years and many conversations with CEP farmers about game-changing and potentially business breaking factors such as water and drought.

Our many years in the Mining Industry and experience presenting and providing solutions for profitable and responsible Best Land Use practices has well informed us of the culture, misinformation, and pressures existing in the extraction industry in achieving outcomes that are both purposeful and profitable. 

Extractive Industries can help rather than hinder food systems and food system stakeholders. This true potential and means have not been realized yet. Many gaps need to be filled. 

Right across Australia and the world, livelihoods, agribusiness, food systems, environments and communities are being negatively impacted by mining and resources. 

Communities and Governments are exploited by powerful companies. People and communities are often exploited by Governments in return to personal monetary gain.

Food systems and people directly affected by mining and extraction to have true decision making power in determining complementary solutions.

However, this vision starts in the CEP and involves getting it right here. 

From there the system can be added to include:

1. Real cases of social and responsible practice that return profits for Mining and Resource Companies

2. Resource and Water recovery technology data and case studies

3.Evidence-based solutions to adopt

4. A concrete structure for stakeholders to follow including ways to truthfully empower communities and food system 

5. This new policy and framework make it easy to see options and technologies available and work with the community to choose risk-free and balanced solutions.

The creation of platforms to showcase activities to aid the vision would also be developed, including;

1. A Platform for Responsible Companies to showcase their activities to attract investors and research

2. A Platform for inventors to showcase technologies

3. A platform for new ideas and technologies to be explored and collaborated upon.

Extractive Industries and the political ecology that connects them to community and food systems provide a multitude of spaces and possibilities for all stakeholders to benefit from socially just solutions. This vision forgets boundaries and considers the notion of limitless possibilities for both mining companies and agrifood systems to benefit from socially and environmentally just policies and practices governed by mutual stakeholder values.

This vision forges complete synergy and alliance between Mining Companies and key players in the food system such as primary producers. 

Traditional means of making policy have been hinged on one of two things:

1. An awkward dance to finding a happy medium for all. 

2. Economically measured growth that does not consider the value of environmental and social growth.

This vision showcases provisions for developments and betterments for all stakeholders, beyond the static 50/50 rule. Previously, growth has been measured in terms of economic value and impactful policy decisions often give precedence to monetary growth alone. 

This vision paves the way for a cultural shift in the understanding of a growth to include economic, social and environmental factors without negatively impacting a mining companies bottom line. Extracting 100% of water and recovering waste from mining operations to reuse in operations will result in cost recovery, reduced energy expenditure, reduced cartage, treatment and disposal costs, diversified streams of income through commercialization of waste, and the ability to attract a new generation of responsible investors (ESG) to generate capital. We must include mining profits in this vision. Mining is not an industry likely to finish or slow down. Ensuring their benefits will help push new practices. 

Existing, emerging and future technologies and circular economy solutions is a compelling platform to base faith that this can be achieved.  

Complete and effective working circular economies will at the very least achieve examples such as the following:

Water and waste not commercialized by extraction companies or utilized back in operations can be passed onto the landowner or community for use in irrigation, stock watering, and municipal purposes. 

The creation of biofertilizer from effluent and extraction of nutrients from waste can be used to regenerate, stabilize, or enhance soil health. 

Resources available due to recovery of water and waste has opened opportunities for the development and growth of traditional, modern, emerging and informal food systems (from vertical farms to livestock and traditional crop production) New developments and food systems such as hydroponic farming systems can be established due to the provisions of water security and resources created by this system. Such Systems can be used as security by the producers in times of drought, or used to expand or diversify their business. The same systems can be used for new enterprise, opening up job creation opportunities. 

The planet and Profit debate is at the forefront of discussion and decision making in regards to mining companies' operations and decision-makers in charge of policy.  Up until this vision, extractive companies need to optimize profits and productivity has been seen to compromise best land practice and their social/environmental licenses to operate (and visa versa). 

The new policy and solution suggestions within the vision will shift the role of mining companies from simply being water and land users. They become water and land stewards in a way that also increases their profits and reduces costs where possible. Rather than exploiting the land and community in which they operate, they will contribute to the growth and development of the land and community in which they operate, in ways that will positively impact their companies reputation and bottom line. 

The old limited Industry mindset and culture of ‘getting in and get out’ and ‘do as we have always done’ have long dissolved into the past and been replaced by a ‘growth for all’ mindset. 

Everybody and Everything Wins by 2050

The contributions of the mining company and symbiotic relationship between Company - community and it's stakeholders have resulted in a new era for the remote region of the CEP 

Once degraded soils are healthy and producing exceptional yields. Older primary producers can only think back to the time when water security and availability was the main topic of conversation at the local bar. New developments such as vertical farming systems and hydroponic enterprises have opened up new employment opportunities and allowed for the diversification of crops and livestock and enabled the capacity for producers to increase yield and herd numbers. Livestock farmers no longer have to worry about feed supply as the quick growing fodder systems and excess water storage is available during low rainfall times and periods of harsher growing conditions. 

Drought, Climate Change and reduced rainfall does not result in the CEP needing supplementary and costly water, feed and cartage from other regions during drought and dry seasons (due to recycled water). The region is self-sufficient periods of harsh weather conditions. This reduces gas emissions of long haul cartage.

Extractive Industries, Agribusiness and community benefit from a  harmonious and flourishing coexistence. Technologies are being shared between industries which allows for Mining to make Contributions towards Modern Agtech and there is data available for optimal predictive analytics for best decision making.

Research is welcomed and deeply rooted in the regions activities. For shareability and adaptability for other regions

The model created for best practice between Resource Industry, community and food systems produce better knowledge of circular economies. 

Leading into 2050, the CEP is a case study that details how Improved social Performance leads to better financial returns through Increased reputation with stakeholders and investors improved access to resources and future projects due to optimized social and environmental legacy reduced Environmental Footprint

Mining companies have full database structure, support, and policy to fully measure, understand, and consider potential environmental, social or economic impacts. 

Farmers Enjoy Increased Animal Production, and weight at sale turnover with consistent year-round marketability. This produces increased Revenue. Higher quality crops and feed result in tighter grazing management.

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Attachments (7)

Examples of Utilising Water and waste from Operations for Social Legacy, Development and Enterprise & Commercialisation.pptx (1).pdf

The document outlines examples of beneficial use of water and wastes recovered and reused from operations for Central Eyre Peninsula Food System Stakeholders and Mining Companies

Article Farmers uncertain of their future following Iron Road announcement.pdf

An article taken from the local newspaper explaining the issues that farmers are facing


Connection and Experience afford Insight and Inspiration for Vision

iron road community document.pdf

Iron Road Limited (2011), Central Eyre Iron Project A Closer Look, viewed 27th January


South Australian State Government (2011), Department for Environment and Water, Eyre Peninsula Demand and Supply Statement, viewed 29th January,


Management Eyre Peninsula, Strategic Plan for the Eyre Peninsula Natural Resources Management Region - 2017-2027, viewed 29th January 2020,


South Australian State Government (2011), Department for Environment and Water, Eyre Peninsula Demand and Supply Statement, viewed 29th January,


Join the conversation:

Photo of Leanne Demery

Hi Abbey McKenna welcome to the Food System Vision Prize community!

I would love to see a greater explanation of how your Vision is informed by the community. Focus on telling your story of what a day would look like in CEP in 2050.

Make sure you have reviewed your final submission through the Pocket Guide to support you through the final hours of wrapping up your submission. This will give you the most important bullet points to keep in mind to successfully submit your Vision.

Here is the link to the pocket guide:

I look forward to seeing your submission finalized by 31st January, 5:00 pm EST.

Photo of Abbey McKenna

Hi Leanna,

Thank you very much for this.

I look forward to finalizing the visions shared by the Central Eyre Community, Primary Producers, and other stakeholders.

Have a great day.