Without community support, the mining industry did not have a "viable and confident future", Resources and Energy Minister Chris Hartcher told a mining conference at Cessnock on Monday.
Speaking at the NSW Minerals Council’s community and environment conference, Mr Hartcher said the public perception of coalmining had changed, and people no longer saw it as the means of powering the economy, despite the huge role that coal still played in electricity generation.
Rather than images of mining communities striving together to win coal, the public saw images of coal companies pitted against its enemies with little chance of coexistence.
"Above all, at the end of the day, the strength of the industry lies in its community support," Mr Hartcher said. Without the community, without the support of the community, the industry simply does not face a strong and viable future."
The minerals council’s chief executive, Stephen Galilee, said a failure to work with the rest of the community would be damaging.
"It will damage our industry, it’s reputation and its relationships," Mr Galilee said.
"It will also damage our industry financially, which is likely to cost jobs.
"Most importantly, failure can mean damage for the local environment and be detrimental to our local communities."
Speaking with the Newcastle Herald after his address to the 300 conference delegates at the Crowne Plaza event, Mr Galilee said it was disappointing that the West Wallsend subsidence damage and bungled cleanup revealed by the Herald took so long to be made public.
"It’s an extremely disappointing and highly regrettable incident and and it’s true, among the wider community we’re seen as only as good as our worst performance and it’s clear this has caused significant damage to the industry’s reputation in that area," Mr Galilee said.
"It’s good that the company has reported it (to the authorities) on time and has committed to working with the authorities to remediate the site but it’s disappointing that it’s taken a while for the community to become aware that the incident has occurred."