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Social licencing in mining—between ethical dilemmas and economic risk management


  • W. Eberhard Falck

    (WEFalck Scientific Advisory and Consultancy Services)


Mining comes at the price of environmental and social impacts. While minimising environmental impacts with a view to comply with regulatory requirements today is a standard procedure in mine business management, this is not necessarily so the case for social impacts. On the other hand, many societies today express their desire to participate in the decision-finding on the development of their physical and economic environment. A sustained and sustainable mine development requires the collaboration with the host communities concerned, which means that it has to be developed in a process commonly termed social licencing. However, a ‘social licence’ will not be granted once and for ever, but in fact is an evolving process, as the communities and their needs evolve. This paper examines the evolution of social licencing in the context of various ethical dilemmas and divergent norm and value systems of the different actors, such as host communities, mining companies and society as a whole. It also argues to make social licencing an integral element of business (risk) management for mining companies.

Suggested Citation

  • W. Eberhard Falck, 2016. "Social licencing in mining—between ethical dilemmas and economic risk management," Mineral Economics, Springer;Raw Materials Group (RMG);Luleå University of Technology, vol. 29(2), pages 97-104, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:minecn:v:29:y:2016:i:2:d:10.1007_s13563-016-0089-0
    DOI: 10.1007/s13563-016-0089-0

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Prno, Jason & Scott Slocombe, D., 2012. "Exploring the origins of ‘social license to operate’ in the mining sector: Perspectives from governance and sustainability theories," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(3), pages 346-357.
    2. Parsons, Richard & Lacey, Justine & Moffat, Kieren, 2014. "Maintaining legitimacy of a contested practice: How the minerals industry understands its ‘social licence to operate’," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 41(C), pages 83-90.
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    2. Martin Bohle & Cornelia E. Nauen & Eduardo Marone, 2019. "Ethics to Intersect Civic Participation and Formal Guidance," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 11(3), pages 1-17, February.
    3. Dumbrell, Nikki P. & Adamson, David & Wheeler, Sarah Ann, 2020. "Is social licence a response to government and market failures? Evidence from the literature," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 69(C).

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