Cultural values, deep mining operations and the use of surplus groundwater for towns, landscapes and jobs
Legg, P and Hatton MacDonald, D and Bark, RH and Tocock, M and Tinch, D and Rose, JM, Cultural values, deep mining operations and the use of surplus groundwater for towns, landscapes and jobs, Ecological Economics, 178 pp. 1-9. ISSN 0921-8009 (2020) [Refereed Article]
Trade-offs involving land use change, cultural values, water resources and jobs are critically important to understand the opportunity cost of resource extraction. Stated preference techniques can be particularly useful in eliciting the non-market values expressed as trade-offs. This study assesses preferences over the management of groundwater released from deep mining operations in Western Australia. A discrete choice experiment is used to investigate the trade-offs Australians are prepared to make for remote economic, ecological and cultural goods against costs. The results suggest that there is heterogeneity of preferences as indicated by a three-class structure of a latent class model. One class supports the use of released groundwater across a range of economic, ecological and cultural uses modelled: extending town water supply, restoring rangeland habitat, creating jobs for Aboriginal Australians and preserving cultural waterholes. The smallest class supports all these uses except job creation and the final class only supports preserving cultural waterholes. These results illustrate public attitudes towards cultural values as well as wider environmental policy tensions between instrumental and intrinsic values.
discrete choice experiment, willingness to pay, groundwater, Aboriginal cultural values, town water supplies, biodiverse habitat