Social licence: power imbalances and levels of consciousness – two case studies

Michael Hitch, Murray Lytle, Michael Tost

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4 Citations (Scopus)


Social licence to operate (SLO) is a term that is finding increasing acceptance
in a number of industries. Like all new terms, its precise meaning and
implications are still being investigated. Using data from previous studies,
this paper offers an analysis of the SLO of two case studies with each study
being viewed separately through the grid of a distinct theoretical framework.
Case study 1 looks at the development of differential social licence negotiated
in the Hamlet of Cambridge Bay, Nunavut, as a result of an impact and
benefit agreement negotiated between Tahera Diamond Corp. and the
Kitikmeot Inuit Organisation in 2004. The study demonstrates that general
acceptance of resource development can be uneven and reflect an unequal
distribution of decision-making power. In case study 2, stakeholders of a
failed mineral development project were queried across time about the
specifics of the proposed mine development and were queried about
resource development across different levels of consciousness. Perhaps,
SLO is variable across different levels of consciousness. The paper concludes
with observations about the variable nature of SLO acceptance across populations
and across levels of consciousness within individuals. Perhaps, the
concept of SLO is, in fact, complex, difficult to define andmeasure and, at this
point, of limited utility as a measure of resource development acceptance.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Mining, Reclamation and Environment
Publication statusPublished - 5 Dec 2018

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