The Sustainable Mining 2019 (6th International Congress on Environmental and Social Responsibility in Mining) Conference held in Santiago, Chile was organised by GECAMIN and took place between the 9th and 11th September 2019. This conference was a perfect opportunity for sharing the analysis of the INFACT research finding from the paper “The Canary in the Cage: Community Voices and Social Licence to Operate in Central Eastern Europe” (written by Mark Proctorand Dr Cathryn MacCallum).
The paper is the product of SRK Exploration Services UK (SRK) through the EU funded Horizon 2020 INFACT project and research undertaken as part of doctoral studies by an associate consultant. It looks at European-wide research through INFACT and marries it with research into the mining sector and communities in Serbia, in-order to illustrate general and country-specific issues around social licence to operate. Using a Balkan perspective, the paper illustrates how gaps are created in the extractive industry’s conceptualization of host communities and how that precipitates social licence to operate failures. It raises some challenging questions around the extractive industry’s use of the stakeholder concept and questions how equipped the sector is to engage and assess community-based business risk. The paper discusses the importance of early engagement as part of the solution to prevent social licence failure and the importance of engaging with conflict and enabling dissenting voices at an early stage of project development, rather than quelling them.
The conference also allowed to promote INFACT on a global stage and reflect on the European experience of mining with Chilean, Brazilian, Japanese, North American and Australian colleagues.
More generally within the discussion of sustainability in mining, Chilean mining companies provided some food for thought in terms of further INFACT research concerning the link between verifiable sustainable production (branding) and social licence processes.