Cultural values, deep mining operations and the use of surplus groundwater for towns, landscapes and jobs

Peter Legg, Darla Hatton MacDonald, Rosalind H. Bark, Mark Tocock, Dugald Tinch, John M. Rose

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4 Citations (Scopus)
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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.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106808
JournalEcological Economics
Early online date18 Aug 2020
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020


  • Aboriginal cultural values
  • Biodiverse habitat
  • Discrete choice experiment
  • Groundwater
  • Town water supplies
  • Willingness to pay

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