Social atlas of national mining benefits and impacts

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1. Summary

Ernst and Young have assessed “social licence to operate” as the 5th biggest business risk affecting mining and metals globally in 2015, affecting many companies listed on the London stock exchange. The risk has climbed the ladder to 4th position in 2016 because of the growing influence of communities to stop or slow projects, no matter how exemplary a company’s track record is with social engagement. The frequency and number of projects being delayed or stopped due to community and environmental activists continues to rise. Organisations cannot assume acceptance will be provided by the community and its stakeholders even if they have established a good track record for previous projects.


The public are concerned about transparency and are uncertain about the benefits and they are reducing support. They don’t trust industry spin and they are demanding public inquiries, protest movements and parliamentary inquests. In addition, it’s also slowing down the approval process which costs governments forgone royalties. Furthermore it’s expensive for companies who experience delays and don’t know where they stand.


After searching academic literature and popular internet search engines, we saw that a web-based atlas products have been created for other sectors (e.g. health) but never for the mining industry (neither in UK or Australia) so we set about building one. Our Innovation is to demonstrate the social and economic effects of this industry (positive and negative) using a unique social atlas of mining impacts and benefits we have developed, trialed and demonstrate in Australia with an opportunity to expand in other countries.


This innovation will work to restore confidence in what the benefits are and how the industry can improve. This will help speed up the approval process for legitimate mining operations seeking to restore and increase public benefits.


Rod McCrea
almost 4 years ago

A social licence to operate does not automatically come with government approval of a resource extraction project. However, without both the approval and on-going development of a project is at risk. Moreover, the impacts, benefits, challenges and opportunities from resource development are unequally shared in society and so a social licence to operate is also important ethical dimension to understanding and achieving a social licence to operate for resource extraction projects. An important step in this is mapping the impacts and benefits of mining operations in Australia

Marcela Costanzo
almost 4 years ago

sounds like a great idea