This article focuses on community relations in the mining industry, within the context of sustainable development, social responsibility and stakeholder engagement. Community relations is conceptualized as a three-dimensional practice that involves: working for the company to understand local community perspectives; bridging community and company perspectives to generate dialogue and mutual understanding and; facilitating necessary organizational change to improve social performance. Key challenges of institutionalizing and professionalizing community relations within the mining industry are discussed. The article argues that at a conceptual level, community relations should be de-linked from public relations if it is to gain strength as a professional domain of work. Copyright © 2009 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment.