Abstract Imperatives for examining resource industry approaches to social performance continue to intensify. Mining companies claim to have embraced the key tenets of sustainable development (SD) and corporate social responsibility (CSR) and that social aspects are now ‘core to business’. Evidence from the field suggests that despite these proclamations, the industry's mode of engagement and benefit distribution is not always defensible, or ‘sustainable’. In this article, we use core-periphery thinking (CPT) as a foundation for mapping mineral resource relationships and internal decision making processes. The internal dimensions of social performance provide a productive platform for influencing and ultimately improving company-community relations in mining. The approach articulates four key dimensions by using a broader core-periphery construction as conceptual anchor points. These dimensions offer coordinates for understanding community relations practice within the organisational sphere. The purpose of building ‘practice maps’ is to offer scholars, practitioners and decision-makers a conceptual framework for social performance improvement that it is not bound by rigid notions of core and non-core aspects of mineral resource development.