United States: How Mining Companies Can Achieve An Effective "Social License To Operate" In Latin America – Part 2

Last Updated: July 18 2019
Article by Jordi Ventura

Effective Social License to Operate: Off-site preparation and on-site investigation

Second in a series of articles about achieving an effective social license to operate

by Jordi Ventura

See the first article in this series: What is a Social License to Operate (SLO) and how do mining companies achieve an SLO?

An effective diagnosis for a Social License to Operate (SLO) will include off-site preparatory work and well as on-site investigation.

Off-site preparatory work

In order to ensure a quick, successful and cost-effective investigation, the SLO diagnosis initially involves preparatory work that takes place away from the proposed mining project and prior to any significant presence of the mining company on the ground. This preparatory work consists of, at a minimum, the following:

  • meeting with relevant members of the company's senior management team to:
    • ascertain what, if any, endeavors have already been conducted by the company or additional companies (mining or otherwise) concerning the SLO and related matters, and obtain any copies of all documentation;
    • discuss any particular areas of concern that the company may have; and
    • agree to an overall game plan that includes expected deliverables, deadlines and costs.

It is imperative for the company to grant the diagnosis team unrestricted access (pursuant to an appropriate non-disclosure, confidentiality, limited engagement or similar agreement) to review the company's documents, policies and procedures, interview company personnel, and engage in similar activities that will maximize the diagnosis team's investigative efforts and knowledge base.

  • The diagnosis team will need to determine the host country national legislation and customs that exist and are related to:
    • land access and acquisition;
    • community consultation (especially when dealing with indigenous peoples);
    • cultural heritage; and
    • local, regional and national development.
  • The diagnosis team will also need to:
    • identify any gaps between national legislation and international standards to ensure that all appropriate procedures will be followed in connection with the diagnosis team's investigative efforts;
    • gather relevant historical, political and socio-cultural information;
    • determine whether the proposed mining project is located on or in the vicinity of lands of indigenous peoples and may impact these lands
      • if this is the case, separate preparation must be made, and a possible time-consuming process must be anticipated, in order to obtain Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC);
    • identify all stakeholders – whether formally or informally involved – that are external to the proposed mining project, including governmental regulatory agencies, global non-government organizations (NGOs), international financial institutions and international mining industry associations;
    • develop a well-thought-out procedure to provide consistent information to landowners and land users in order to obtain permission to conduct exploration and other preliminary on-site activities;
    • ascertain the identities of key community leaders;
    • select and hire one or more respected, well connected and trusted facilitators to arrange necessary interactive and informational on-site meetings
      • it is usually a good idea to have the facilitator(s) also serve as a liaison between the mining company and various community factions, possibly including local law enforcement or a military presence, and otherwise act as the diagnosis team's in-country representative.

On-site investigative work

Once the off-site preparatory work has been completed, the diagnosis team will relocate to the proposed site of the mining project to conduct, at a minimum, the following activities:

  • meet with the hired facilitator(s) to obtain any insights concerning the local community's feelings towards mining in general and the mining company in particular, and whether there are any important issues that the diagnosis team should be aware of and/or whether in-country plans need to be altered
    • there is one certainty when conducting mining activities of any sort, including work associated with the SLO diagnosis: one should always anticipate changing circumstances and have contingency plans in place;
  • schedule (with enough advance notice) and hold one or more interactive community meetings, where interested stakeholders are able to learn about the company's plans, exchange ideas and express their opinions
    • if permission is granted, the meetings should be video recorded, and one or more documents should be prepared memorializing the meetings and obtaining the names and signatures of all those in attendance;
  • identify all stakeholders – whether formally or informally involved – that are immediately adjacent to or will be directly affected by the proposed mining project and assess and/or determine:
    • their different needs, interests, values and aspirations;
    • the local history of conflict or human rights violations;
    • problems encountered by current or previous exploration projects;
    • unstable or contested land tenure arrangements;
    • intra-community divisions and inter-community conflicts and alliances;
    • access to water and other vital resources;
  • physically determine the presence of indigenous peoples or vulnerable groups;
  • prepare an initial community profile (to be completed in the follow-up to an SLO diagnosis, which is the topic of our next article), which provides enough information to initiate engagement and to begin mapping the risks or impacts that the local community and/or stakeholders may face from the development of a mining project;
  • verify the existence of any and all documents and/or agreements signed among community members, government officials, NGOs or other mining companies and, if permission is granted, obtaining copies;
  • verify the existence of any verbal agreements or understanding and memorializing their substance;
  • meticulously document all significant activities that take place during the on-site investigative work;
  • if permission is granted, take as many pictures and video recordings as possible;
  • avoid making promises or commitments so as to not raise expectations
    • failure to fulfill commitments will complicate and very possibly terminate a project.

The qualifications of those conducting the investigation and the follow-up to the results of the investigation are key to gaining an effective social license to operate. We will address those issues in our next article.

Coming next: The Effective Social License to Operate – Effective Diagnosis for Social License to Operate: Who should perform the diagnosis? What to do after the investigation?

See the first article in this series: What is a Social License to Operate (SLO) and how do mining companies achieve an SLO?

A full discussion of issues related to a Social License to Operate can be found in the book Minerals and Mining: The Life of a Mining Project. Jordi Ventura is the author of its chapter titled "The life of a mining project: Effective diagnosis of a social license to operate."

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
In association with
Related Topics
Similar Articles
Relevancy Powered by MondaqAI
Related Articles
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions