Establishing and Maintaining a Social Licence to Operate in Mining

Establishing and Maintaining a Social Licence to Operate in Mining

AREAS OF STUDY: Environment and Community

Qualifies for CMS

This is an interactive, dynamic webcast!

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  • Audience Level: Professional | New to Mining Tool Tip
  • Dates: Unscheduled Tool Tip
  • Early Bird: Tool Tip
  • Enrollment: Included Tool Tip
  • Registration Fee: Tool Tip
  • Location: Live Webcast Tool Tip
  • Duration: 3 sessions of 3 hours each
  • CEUs: 0.8 (8 PDHs) Tool Tip

Course Summary


While government officials in capital cities issue legal licences for mines to operate and projects to progress, out at site, networks of stakeholders control the social licence in an ongoing process of relationship evaluation. Without both kinds of licences, the project stops.

The social license exists when a project has the ongoing approval of the local community and other stakeholders. The social license is rooted in the beliefs, perceptions and opinions held by the local population and other stakeholders about the project. It is therefore dynamic and non-permanent, but contrary to many people’s perception, very measureable.

This course unpacks the original mining industry meaning of the social license metaphor in a way that makes it a practical management tool.

The course focuses on the strategic management of socio-political risk. The first part deals with assessing the location, severity, and causes of socio-political risk in the project's stakeholder network. This is followed by a review of principles for mitigating risk, including strategies for changing the network structure and for devising more appropriate stakeholder relations strategies. Finally, specific community initiatives and programs are discussed to show how they meet multiple risk reduction criteria simultaneously, such as those advocated in corporate social responsibility and sustainability guidelines.

The course includes illustrative cases from Latin America, North America, and Austral-Asia. The examples include projects at different stages of the mine lifecycle and in communities with different pre-existing capacities for issuing a valid, durable social licence.

Pre-Course e-Learning

Prior to the course, registered delegates have access to the online e-learning material consisting of an introductory course titled Establishing a Social Licence to Operate in Mining.

Certificate in Mining Studies

This course qualifies for one day of short course credit for the Certificate in Mining Studies (CMS), a continuing education program of accredited short courses, webcasts and online courses for lifelong learning in mining, supported by University of British Columbia, University of Arizona and University of Concepción. more details »

Continuing Professional Development (CPD)

Registered participants who attend the entire webcast and complete an evaluation at the end of the course will receive a Certificate of Attendance, confirming the Professional Development Hours (PDH)/Continuing Education Units (CEU) earned. Please confirm with your employer and/or professional association that this course qualifies for CPD.

Who Should Attend?

The course is aimed at any and all managers who deal with stakeholders and their issues. This includes geologists, land and mineral rights managers, contract and compensation managers, community relations managers, environmental specialists, purchasing managers, compliance officers, health and safety specialists, human resource officers, investor relations managers, communications officers, and project general managers.

Robert Boutilier

Robert Boutilier, Ph.D., is a researcher, author, and president of Boutilier & Associates, a social research consultancy ( He is also an associate of the Centre for Sustainable Development at Simon Fraser University. Specializing in mining and infrastructure projects, Robert has conducted stakeholder mapping research and workshops on stakeholder relations for managers in Argentina, Austria, Australia, Brazil, Bolivia, Canada, DR Congo, France, Ghana, Mali, Mexico, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Poland, South Africa, Tanzania, and the United States. He is a regular conference speaker and has published scholarly articles on firm–stakeholder relations and community development issues in the Journal of Business Ethics, Impact Assessment and Project Appraisal, the Journal of Corporate Citizenship, Resources Policy, and The Extractive Industries and Society.

Ian Thomson

Ian Thomson has more than 40 years of experience in the mining industry, working for the last two decades to advance and refine the management of social issues in resource development projects. His area of expertise includes stakeholder engagement, capacity building, design and development of sustainable social relations and guiding multi-stakeholder processes. His years of experience in exploration and mine feasibility studies enable him to ground his assessment of social issues in an understanding of the technical aspect of mine finding and development.

Thomson has led development of new standards and guidelines for best practice management of social issues during exploration, facilitated construction of the Principles and Guidance for Responsible Exploration for the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC), and was a prime mover in developing both the concept and metrics of the Social License to Operate. He is Principal of Shinglespit Consultants Inc., prior to that he was a founding member and principal of On Common Ground Consultants Inc. and held management positions with Orvana Minerals Corp and Placer Development Ltd.

In May 2015, Ian was honored as CIM Distinguished Lecturer in recognition of his dedication to promoting sustainability in the industry and the CIM community.

Provisional Schedule

This webcast will be held from 8:00am to 11:00am PDT/Vancouver, Canada time.

Check the exact time and date in your city.

This webcast is divided into three sessions with following topics:

Session 1 - Basic concepts of the social licence to operate
29 August 2017, from 8:00am to 11:00am Pacific Daylight Time
Session Presenter

Welcome and Self-introductions

Ian Thomson & Robert Boutilier

Legal vs. Social licence

Vivid example of a lost social licence (Ian has several examples)

  • background
  • crisis events
  • indicators of change in level of social licence
  • recommended action
  • how it turned out

Ian Thomson


  • SLO
  • stakeholder
  • engagement
  • sustainable community development

Ian Thomson & Robert Boutilier

Financial impact

  • Loss of social licence is loss of resource access, which makes the firm less competitive
  • how stakeholders affect resource access
    • directly/indirectly
    • raise/lower costs of access
  • bottom line value of social licence (using Monterrico's Rio Blanco stock value as example)

Ian Thomson

Factors raising importance of SLO relative to legal licences

  • globalization & extension of industrial system to places beyond the rule of law
  • pressures for international norms/social contract ("a just globalization")

Robert Boutilier

Levels of Social licence


  • the four levels
  • the three boundary conditions and what they really signify (i.e., social capital growth from transactional to reciprocal to collaborative)
  • the need for constrant renewal to avoid backsliding
  • the common pitfall of mistaking cooperation for trust, of confusing acceptance with approval

Robert Boutilier

San Cristóbal time line

  • method for validating the graph
  • events/story at each point
  • today's multi-level graph that tracks multiple clusters of stakeholders

Ian Thomson

Homework assignment 1: Bring your story about a change in a level of SLO, or about a SLO thought to be at one level when it was really at another.

Ian Thomson

Session 2 - Getting and keeping your social licence to operate
30 August 2017, from 8:00am to 11:00am Pacific Daylight Time
Session Presenter

Summary of Session 1 and assignment 1 review:

  • Let each person describe their example.
  • Raise issues & lessons illustrated in stories.

Ian Thomson

Measurement instrument

  • initial version that worked in San Cristóbal
  • modifications for exploration project
  • failures to capture variance for top level
  • recommended action
  • Is it a multi-level phenomenon? (i.e., individuals' networks vs. the whole community network)

Robert Boutilier

Granters of SLO come in networks

Bridging, bonding, & linking: the stakeholders' and yours

Robert Boutilier

How this translates into network graphs

  • San Cristóbal top view vs. Sideview
  • Huarmey
  • San Marcos

Robert Boutilier

Conceptual tools for interpreting network graphs

Homework assignment 2: map the given network data by hand and compare it to the closest template

Robert Boutilier

Session 3 - How to Improve Your SLO
31 August 2017, from 8:00am to 11:00am Pacific Daylight Time
Session Presenter

Summary of Session 2 and assignment 2 review:

  • Let each person describe their example.
  • Raise issues & lessons illustrated in stories.

Robert Boutilier

Templates of stakeholder network structures

  • the axes
  • the cells and their SLO granting characteristics
  • implications for strategies aimed at SLO improvement

Robert Boutilier

How improve the network's capacity to issue a valid, durable social licence

How to get/lose

  • legitimacy
  • credibility
  • full trust

Stories to illustrate both losing and gaining each one. Solicit examples from participants.

Ian Thomson

General principles for socio-political risk reduction and improvement of the SLO with illustrations

  • Bond before you bridge
  • respect and cultural capital
  • explicitness and expectation control, suppressing the forces that create the resource curse
  • collaboration in all operational sectors (examples from Zandvliet & Anderson, Wilson & Wilson)

Robert Boutilier

Guidelines and standards related to the SLO

  • Equator Principles, ICMM best practices, ISO 26000 CSR, World Bank/IFC standards, AA1000, Global Reporting Initiative, FPIC, etc.

Ian Thomson

Discussion and open questions

Ian Thomson & Robert Boutilier

How to Register

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Registration Deadline

Online registration ends 15 minutes prior to the webcast; however phone registration can be accepted up to the start of the webcast. Please call +1 604 683 2037 ext. 259 for last-minute reservations. Webcasts fill up quickly. Early booking is advised!


The fee covers the lecture, access to electronic course notes, Pre-Course e-Learning and a certificate of attendance.

Early Bird: there is a 10% discount if you register at least 30 days prior to the course start date. A 10% discount is offered for groups of 5 or more OR if you provide your Annual Edumine subscription User ID at time of registration. The maximum discount that can be applied is 20%.

This webcast is designed for both individual and group participation and would make an excellent company-sponsored in-house training event. If you have a group of twenty or more who would like to attend this course from one location, please contact us at +1 604 683 2037 for special pricing.

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