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The campaign that could energise quarrying

Quarrying shares similarities with the electricity industry - and many of the same challenges, the first being to convince consumers of how integral it is to their lives. Damian Christie examines an inspirational publicity campaign that the quarry industry should not lightly dismiss.

It’s an industry that is loathed by consumers for ever-increasing prices. It’s not perceived as a “clean”, “green” industry, although it invests substantial sums into sustainability projects. It’s not considered a good corporate citizen, although it supports a range of community services, eg zoos, parks and gardens, road safety, health, education, etc. Yet it is an industry that is fundamental to our lives — we use its products 24/7. Indeed, we’d be in the Stone Age if we didn’t!

I am, of course, talking about the electricity and gas industry — although the above argument could also, with some tweaking, mount a strong case for the quarry industry as well.

There is no doubt that without quarry products, humans would be living in caves or forests and would lack culture and infrastructure – indeed, civilisation itself. But given quarrying, mining, forestry and other resource industries today are also dependent on electricity, gas and diesel to run their operations, power has become a precious, essential resource.

It is inevitable that as electrical infrastructure ages and decays, maintenance and replacement costs escalate for the communities and businesses that need it. In turn, as population growth continues, and new communities and businesses open within accessible distance of our capital cities, there will be a strain on the grid.

Nevertheless, power companies have become the new villains on the political landscape, caught between meeting demand and supply while covering power usage costs. It’s no wonder the electricity industry promoted the repeal of the carbon tax as a “win” for consumers, even though other fees and charges have offset savings from the repeal in the last three years.

What obviously frustrates the electricity industry is that power is an unacknowledged commodity that enriches and empowers people. Consumers take it for granted and blame it for adding to cost of living pressures, not enhancing their lives.

It is unsurprising then that AGL last month launched a new campaign that illustrates how important energy is in people’s lives.

A 60-second TV advertisement shows the viewer the way energy is consumed in a typical day, eg turning on the bedside lamp before dawn, taking a hot shower, using the iron and the toaster, going for a morning swim in a heated pool, operating an electric toothbrush, commuting by train to and from work, switching on lights in offices and classrooms at the start of the day and off again at night, making tea and coffee, going out to restaurants, clubs and bars at night, watching television into the night and reading by a lamp before bedtime.

The ad ends with the slogan: “At AGL we create energy solutions for every part of every day … and every day after that.”

The quarry industry finds itself in a similar quandary to its electricity and gas counterpart. Dayne Steggles, chairman of the IQA’s Hunter sub-branch, remarked in Quarry’s 30th anniversary feature last month that while consultations between quarry operations and stakeholders have improved in the last three decades, what hasn’t changed is “the community appreciation of what quarries deliver to communities … There still isn’t an understanding that the product that emanates from the extraction of resources impacts on people’s environments in very positive ways”.

Steggles added that while the industry had opened up a channel to communication, there was not a unified, proactive industry message for stakeholders. The industry going forward, he said, needs to show leadership and unity if it is to address public perceptions about quarrying and promote the industry’s positive contribution to society.

The AGL campaign is a model that the quarry industry, along with the construction materials majors, the IQA and the CCAA, should be aspiring to in the future. Of course, no such campaign would be cheap but a clear, targeted, on-song message that utilises different media (not just TV), will go a long way to redressing the relationships that quarries have with their communities.

The capacity for communication is there — it’s a matter of energising the quarry industry to action.

More reading

What has changed during 30 years of Quarry?

Surprises: The most unexpected changes in quarrying

Celebrating 30 years of Quarry

Damian Christie
Editor • Quarry Magazine

Damian Christie is the editor and a chief writer of Quarry magazine. To contact Damian, please click here.
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Monday, 26 August, 2019 3:09pm
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