Why Social Responsibility Should be Your Highest Priority: What Does it Mean?

Posted: 23 February, 2021

If 2020 taught us anything, it was that life is fragile, everyday is a gift, and we need to take better care of each other and the planet . Like our own lives, we are only given one Earth and it is our job to take care of it and protect it for future generations. The same could not be any truer for the mining industry. In an industry known for directly impacting the land, how are mining companies adopting this mindset into their everyday operations?

Sustainability in Mining?

Let’s tackle a burning question: does sustainability have a place in mining? Do mining companies even care about the world’s sustainability initiatives and obligation trends? Towards the end of 2019, mining companies started to realize that sustainability was important in the industry. By 2020, and especially as a result of the pandemic, the industry realized that it was no longer an option, but an imperative.

Now in 2021, we are beginning to see mines strongly commit to sustainability practices. Mining executives are doing this through renewed commitment to their employees, local communities, and the land on which they operate through increased communication, digital technologies, advanced thinking and greener efficiencies that enable not only a better relationship with the people and land affected, but ensure more productive and efficient processes.

The term we use to describe this process of applying sustainability + communal cooperation within the mining industry is social license to operate. This term is recognized due to its ethical, social & environmental obligation that the industry must uphold in the process of practicing mining exploration, extraction, processing and shipping. In other words, the mining industry has the responsibility to act in the highest accordance of cooperation with every part of the world it touches – whether it be the people working in the mines, its neighboring communities, or the land on which the mine operates and affects.

Social License to Operate Breakdown

EMPLOYEES

  • The PEOPLE that make the profession SUCCESSFUL
  • ALIGNED & ON-BOARD
  • GOALS are MORE LIKELY to be ACHIEVED when employees are in AGREEANCE with company VALUES/ DIRECTION
  • SUCCESS starts INTERNALLY

LOCAL COMMUNITIES

  • ALL LOCALS are AFFECTED in varying severities
  • AIR POLLUTION, NOISE POLLUTION, CONSTRUCTION INTERRUPTIONS
  • Mining companies to UNDERSTAND & RESPOND to NEEDS, FEELINGS & IMPACT REACTIONS
  • WORK TOGETHER AS ONE

LAND ON WHICH IT OPERATES

  • MINING UNAWIDABLY affects the LAND on which it operates
  • SUSTAINABLE PRACTICES help reduce impact
  • PRESERVE & PROTECT land for FUTURE GENERATIONS to use and enjoy 

Why Should a Social License to Operate Be Your Highest Priority?

Although it is evident and pertinent that the industry must adopt sustainability practices and social license to operate ideals, why is it imperative that this mindset be adopted immediately?

A mine can only operate nowadays if multiple parties are on board. Long gone are the days where industrial companies came to a piece of the earth, whether on or offshore, and begin extraction without sign off from local communities, governments, etc. Hence why the term license in social license to operate came to life. No more is it is a one-sided green light to proceed. There must be agreements, cooperation and acceptance on all sides and parties, before work may progress.

Note: A Social License to Operate does not mean that one side gets their way and all parties must succumb to one thought of practice. The license to operate indicates that agreements are made on all sides, such that not every side gets their way, but a mutual agreement is made to ensure that each party holds its promises and agreements – in other words, the social license to operate ensures that each party upholds to act in which they speak. This is imperative for mining companies as often in large mining projects, the voices of the smaller communities or employees can often become overheard or drowned in the greater project. Social license to operate ensures that every party has had their say, and that the operation is accountable to the agreements that are deemed acceptable and agreed upon by all parties involved. This Social License to Operate now must be the highest responsibility that a mining industry can have towards operational success.

How does a mining enterprise adopt and commit to social license to operate?

In this four part blog series of Why Social Responsibility Should be your Highest Priority, we will delve deeper into the three steps towards achieving a social license to operate – including how this is accomplished through technology, a clear & committed plan, communication, trust & cooperation through employees, local communities and the land on which it operates.

THREE STEPS TOWARDS ACHIEVE SOCIAL LICENSE TO OPERATE

TECHNOLOGY

  • ENABLING COMPANIES to be more EFFICIENT, PRODUCTIVE, EMPOWER WORKFORCE, REDUCE WASTE ETC.
  • ASSET HEALTH & PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT
  • REMANUFACTURED & REFURBISHED designs
  • WASTEMANAGEMENT (reduction of waste)

CLEAR & COMMITTED PLAN

  • CLEAR, CONCISE & INFORMATIVE PLAN
  • CLEAR ACTIONS stated and shown implementation
  • WORK TOGETHER with local communities and invested partners

COMMUNICATION TRUST & COOPERATION

  • COMMUNICATE PIAN well a clearly
  • ENGAGE with those affected
  • BUILD ON TRUST continually 


Eager to learn more about Safety & Digital Transformation in Mining? Read our Digital Mining Transformation E-Book now!

Seeking more information on sustainability in mining and social license to operate? Read the next part of the blog series coming soon!
 

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