Why Social License to Operate Should be your Highest Priority: Power of the People

Over the recent holidays, I spent a chilly afternoon inside with my family watching movies. One of the movies that we watched, Deepwater Horizon, impacted me for days. This movie is based on the true story of the explosion of the Gulf of Mexico’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig. This tragic event was the worst oil spill disaster in U.S. history, killing 11 people. Ten years later, it is still wreaking havoc on the environment and local communities.

As I continued to think about the horrors of the movie, I am quickly reminded how IMPERATIVE it is that employee safety comes FIRST in prioritization of industrial companies. Comparatively in the mining industry, safety and social license to operate (SLTO) go hand in hand. When a mining company is laser focused on prioritizing social license to operate above all else, the safety, well-being, and happiness of the employee is ensured across the entire business. If mining companies do not take care of their employees, events similar to Deepwater Horizon can be accidentally occur. 

Employees are the Heart of the Business

At the heart of every business are the people that make it successful – and this comes down to every person that contribute towards the everyday success of the company. Your employees will always be your greatest assets. Therefore, their safety, wellbeing & happiness must remain at the forefront of business priorities.

WHY must we put employees at the forefront of SLTO priorities:

  • When employees are ALIGNED and ON-BOARD, they feel part of the mission of the company. Their value and sense of purpose increases when they feel that they share a common mindset and can voice their opinions/ideas towards the greater mission.
  • GOALS are MORE LIKELY to be ACHIEVED when employees are in AGREEMENT with company VALUES / DIRECTION. When employees feel that they AGREE (aka social license to operate) with the direction a company is moving, there is a greater respect from both sides.
  • SUCCESS starts INTERNALLY – empower your people first to ensure better productivity and success later.
  • SAFETY IS #1 –People come to work to provide for themselves and their families. This cannot be done if they are concerned about their well-being, health & safety while at work. Therefore, employees must be protected and feel confident that they will be well taken care of and SAFE while working in the mine or remotely. 

How we make employees part of Social License to Operate:

Before considering the local communities or the land on which it operates, come the people at the heart of your business. HOW do we make them an integral part of SLTO? 

1.) Have a Clear and Committed Plan: Empower the workforce with a clear, concise, and informed plan on HOW they will participate in the brand’s mission, ensure their well-being and safety, and increase their potential of growth within the company. When there is a plan put in place, employees see and feel that the company cares about the employee not only now but long term

2.) Instill Communication & Trust: Tragic events like what happened at Deepwater Horizon, can cause mistrust and fear towards management and leadership of industrial companies. Although rebuilding trust takes time, it is never too late to start repairing broken promises and damaged trust. Clear and informative communication is the best place to start. Ensure the employee that safety is the company’s greatest priority. Engage them in Q&A, allow their voices to be heard, and enable training simulation/workshops such that they feel confident in the work they are pursuing and the systems/people in which they are working -. Trust is not built overnight but it can be grown over time through persistence of working towards it. 

3.) Technology: Digital technologies from trusted digital partners, like AVEVA, can help enhance SLTO and employee growth in technologies such as the following: 

  • WORKFORCE OPTIMIZATION: Workforce Optimization looks at maximizing employee productivity and efficiency through operational insight and automation. Operator training simulators (OTS) have been used for thoroughly checking the control system configurations in integrated systems before they are applied to the actual mine, as well as, for training the operators, instructors and mine management in how to best operate their facilities.

            Mine management has found that a relatively small investment in an OTS can save hundreds of thousands of dollars with paybacks measured in weeks or months.


  • DYNAMIC SIMULATION: AVEVA Dynamic Simulation is a comprehensive, dynamic process simulator that enables users to meet and beat the dynamic challenges of commissioning, controlling, and operating a modern process plant safely, reliably, and profitably.

            Empower the mining workforce to feel prepared by practicing via a simulator prepares operators for common and worst-case-scenarios and grows confidence in project execution. 

  • AUGMENTED REALITY (AR), VIRTUAL REALITY (VR) OR A MIXED REALITY (MR): AVEVA™ XR models maintenance operations in extended reality by mixing physical and virtual environments for high interaction between humans and machines resulting in increased workforce efficiency.

            A digital twin in mining provides a safe, reliable environment to study, inspect, and test asset maintenance and optimization strategies prior to implementation in the mine or control center. 

Technology is empowering people and workplaces to become smarter, safer and more efficient than ever before. Trusted partners, like AVEVA, can help take you there by coaching, guiding and advising best technological implementations that are best for your mining enterprise and the people who empower your business. 

Want to learn more about Social License to Operate in Mining?

Read our next blog post COMING SOON on how Social License In Mining empowers local communities and ways to ensure and keep better relationships between those communities and stakeholders.

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