12.07.2016

"Social license to operate": a real tool or rhetoric? Examining the mining industry in Finland, Australia and Canada

Funder: Academy of Finland 2014-2018
Project leader: professor Rauno Sairinen (UEF), professor Tapio Litmanen (JYU)

The research project is a joint project between the University of Eastern Finland and the University of Jyväskylä, funded by the Academy of Finland (2014-2018). The goal of the project is to investigate the contents and societal preconditions of social license to operate (SLO) concept when applied into the mining industry activities.

The intention of the project is threefold: first, to draw together and reflect upon the theoretical, conceptual and idea-historical approaches of the SLO agenda applied into extractive industries globally; secondly, to assess the societal and regulatory preconditions of SLO through an analysis of public acceptance, national institutional and regulatory arrangements and particular local forms of mining governance in the focus areas. Thirdly, by using the results of the sub-studies, the project will critically assess the role and importance of the SLO concept for the future development of mining – society relations.

The general task is divided into five operational research tasks: 1) Conceptual analysis of social license to operate (SLO); 2) Comparative analysis of social acceptance of mining in focus countries; 3) Relationship between regulatory arrangements and SLO in focus countries; 4) Local and national protests and SLO; and 5) Future challenges of SLO.

Especially the operational task 2. (”Comparative analysis of social acceptance of mining in focus countries”) is mostly conducted by the research team (project researcher Tuija Jartti, professor Tapio Litmanen) at the JYU. The substudy will provide empirically valid knowledge about the crucial attitudinal factors in developing the SLO in mining in different cultural and societal settings. Public attitudes and values represent one of the main criteria for the social acceptance and social trust of mining activities. However, there has been a lack of empirically sound knowledge on the attitudinal prerequisites of SLO in different societal and cultural settings.

The multidisciplinary project is organized on global, national, and local scales, in effect using these opportunities to explore cross-scale linkages of various SLO approaches and experiences. Research methodology is both qualitative and quantitative including survey, thematic interviews, legal analysis, content analysis of SLO literature and policy documents, various stakeholder’s reports and process analysis in cases.